FOR CREATIVE ADVENTURES
,;.' : '
in this issue:
Dave Arneson interview
How to run a Micro Tournament
Odds in OGRE &G.E.V.
FOR CREATIVE ADVENTURES
JANUARY-FEBRUARY, No. 21,1979
IN THIS ISSUE
5 AN INTER VIE W WITH DA VE ARNESON * Staff
One of the designers of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS speaks out
8 YOU. TOO, CAN RUN A
MIC&OTOURNAMENT * Guy W. McLimore, Jr.
First Hand Report from a Tournament Director
1 PLA YING THE ODDS A T OGRE & G.E. V. * Roland Parenteau
Looking at the OGRE Universe with the 'Pure Science'
1 2 SPA CESHIP MINI A TURES & R ULES * Tony Watson
An overall look at this growing area of gaming
1 5 GETTING MORE FROM BLA CK HOLE * Glenn L. Williams
Additions to MicroGame No. 10
1 6 THE DER YNI * Ronald Pehr
'The Fantasy Trip' meets Katherine Kurtz
1 9 LORDS OF THE MIDDLE SEA * W. G. Armintrout
21 MIND WAR * Micheal Striiey
22 THE REALM OF YOLMI * Dana Holm
23 STOMP! * Phil Kosnett
24 JUGGERNA UT ONE * Robert Chester
A short story
25 ENTERTAINMENT * Warren E. McGill
WHERE WE'RE GOING ,3
NEWS & PLUGS 17
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 26
Art in this issue:
Brian Wilson cover
Larry Beasley 7
Paul Jaquays 9,16,26,29,30
Robert Manns 2,10,17,18
Winchell Chung 11
Peter Daglio 13,14
Kevin Shaughnessy 20,27
Mitch O'Connell 23
Doug Potter 25
David Deitrick 28
C. Ben Ostrander
THE SPACE GAMER is published bi-monthly
by Metagaming, 3100-A Industrial Terrace, Austin,
TX 78759. SUBSCRIPTION information, changes
of address, orders, etc., to Metagaming, P.O. Box
15346, Austin, TX 78761. All material copyright
© 1979 by THE SPACE GAMER. All rights
reserved for material accepted for publication
unless initially specified and agreed otherwise.
News items and product announcements subject
to editorial whim. SUBSCRIPTIONS: six issues,
$8; twelve issues, S15. Base rate for unsolicited
manuscripts is one cent per word; they must be
typed, double spaced, and contain return postage.
Base rate for art is S20 per average page size;
interior art should be black ink on heavy white
paper. Application to mail at second-class rates
is pending at Austin, Texas.
Gaming has come a long way in the
last few years. Most of the companies
that have developed since 1972-1974
wouldn't be able to get a start in today's
market. Quality of game design and
packaging is much improved. In 1974,
the market wasn't crowded and just
beginning. Now, there are eight to ten
established board wargame publishers
turning out fair to excellent products.
Metagaming wouldn't make it starting
out in 1979.
As Metagaming has grown, we have
less time to notice what our competitors
do. Frankly, I don't know too much
about their new releases. Our time is
spent doing our own thing. We believe
that as long as we complete innovative,
quality game projects, we'll make it.
We'd rather lead the field to new areas
than follow by imitation. If we can
imitate and do a better job, we will.
In a way we're competing with our
own standards and expectations more
than other firms. I'm glad when another
company introduces a new concept or
puts out a popular, quality game. That
enhances the reputation and enjoyment
of all gaming. I may wish we'd done
it; but, we don't even have the time to
do all our own interesting projects.
If someone else can do it, more power
The more contact I have with the
hobby industry and other gaming compa-
nies, the more I realize Metagaming does
things differently. Most of the industry,
with some excellent exceptions, operate
on little cash, paying bills late and cutting
quality out of necessity. Metagaming
pays cash as billed. Within a reasonable
budget, our products get high quality
marks. Our printer, box manufacturer
and other suppliers get prompt payments.
Deliveries go out rapidly.
The up-front approach and service
orientation are taken for granted by us.
The amazing thing is how many others
don't take it for granted. It works for
us in reducing hassles and getting good
service. Having quality suppliers is one
key of our success to date. Delivering
quality products promptly is another.
It seems obvious, but apparently, it
Metagaming sponsored two cash prize
tournaments at WARCON V this year.
Despite lower Con attendance than in
previous years, the Metagaming tourna-
ments were resounding successes. The
combination of modest cash prizes
and chess clocks in advanced rounds
was experimental. It was successful in
terms of interest and heightened com-
Whfire WftVft Caning 1
Play style in the OGRE/G.E.V. tourna-
ment changed drastically with the time
pressure of using chess clocks. Meta-
gaming will continue to utilize chess
clocks in tournament experiments. The
goal is a set of rules and regulations for
conducting tournaments. Event timing,
judging, crowd control, record keeping,
and area arrangement are matters of
The value of continuing play of a
game showed clearly in the STELLAR
CONQUEST tournament. There are at
least fifteen to twenty tournament-
experienced SC players in Texas. The
"new blood" went down very rapidly
against the veterans.
Metagaming is tentatively planning a
tournament in Austin for the summer.
The format will depend on available man
power for judging tournaments and
handling administrative tasks. Cash
prizes would be awarded in many events.
Tournament winners would be asked to
write strategy articles for THE SPACE
GAMER. Open gaming space would be
provided for non-tournament play.
The tournament is not planned as a
typical convention. The only events
aside from tournament gaming might
be a few discussion panels with Meta-
gaming staff. All the effort would go
into running a good, tight series of
tournaments first. Everything else
would be secondary.
If you live in Texas and are willing
to donate some hours as a judge, assis-
tant, or gopher at a tournament, write:
The Games Foundation; Box 40; Cedar
Park, TX 78613. If interest in suffi-
cient, we may form a Texas Gaming
League with memberships and a complete
organization. The Games Foundation
is a Metagaming subsidiary controlling
STELLAR CONQUEST and GODS-
FIRE will be shipping by March 10,
1979. The huge bills for them arrive
in April. Planned at the same time as
these two were the boxes for THE
FANTASY TRIP: IN THE LABY-
The last rules draft from Steve Jackson
on TFT: ITL was received three weeks
ago, consisting of 300+ pages of xeroxed
notes. Believe me, Steve will never
volunteer for a "Big" game project again.
It has literally been two years out of his
life plus thousands of hours of supporting
All we can say about the huge delay
is that the game will be worth the
delay because of its payability. The
price for this mountain of material and
play aids will be either $19.95 (a "strip-
ped" version) or S29.95. At S29.95 there
would be a packet of 15mm fantasy
Microtures included as class playing
pieces in addition to the 720+ other
board play counters. If you have any say
at all about price, get it in now. The
leaning here currently is toward the
$29.95 Cadillac fantasy game, unmatched.
The next two scheduled Micros are
HOLY WAR, tactical combat loosely
based on GODSFIRE, and INVASION
OF THE AIR EATERS. HOLY WAR
is a Lynn Willis design with some very
clever background and slick tactical
wrinkles. HOLY WAR is for you if
you've been wanting some space tactical
play. Lynn shows further development
of his premier talents in this one-don't
INVASION OF THE AIR EATERS is
to my mind the best Micro we've pub-
lished. I always wanted to publish a
Micro with the entire world printed
on a Micro map. The plot is '50's camp.
Bug-eyed monsters invade earth and set
up bases to convert our air into theirs—
die gasping, Terran scum! What is neat
is that all the factors of nations, armies,
technology, and invaders fit and work!
It can even be multi-player or played
solitaire with the invaders reacting in set
patterns. I don't think we've ever given
as much potential in a $2.95 MicroGame.
METAGAMING ASKS A FAVOR
About a year ago we aked our readers
to ask their local toy, book, and hobby
stores to carry Metagaming products.
If a store is selling Avalon Hill or SPI
products, then it can't miss with the
MicroGames. If a bookshop has a good
science fiction section, they can also
sell MicroGames. Many of you sent us
the names and addresses of local stores
who eventually picked up our line.
So, we're again asking you to let your
local toy, book, and hobby shops know
that you like MicroGames. It sounds
simple, but it works. The retailer survives
by keeping you happy. If Metagaming
products make you happy, he'll be inte-
rested. You're doing him a favor too---
Micros and THE SPACE GAMER do
bring him new game customers.
THE FANTASY TRIP Microtures are made for
use with Metagaming's THE FANTASY TRIP game
system. Each package of Microtures is an assortment
of quality metal fantasy figures. These figures are
used to represent the heroes, heroines, fighters,
wizards, sentients, monsters and animals from
THE FANTASY TRIP.
THE FANTASY TRIP Microtures are supplied
with optional hex bases. The hex bases are com-
patible with the facing and movement requirements
of THE FANTASY TRIP combat system. When
glued to the hex bases the figures are ready for
Metagaming already has several games published
in THE FANTASY TRIP series.
THE FANTASY TRIP: MELEE S2.95 - man to
THE FANTASY TRIP: WIZARD S3.95 - magical
THE FANTASY TRIP: DEATH TEST S2.95 - an
To be published in the near future are the
Game Master's rule module for adventure campaigns.
THE FANTASY TRIP: IN THE LABYRINTH
While intended for use with THE FANTASY TRIP
these Microtures are suitable for use with any fantasy
game that uses figures. They are also useful, without
bases, on terrain boards as fantasy armies.
TFT 1 Heroes & Heroines ($2.95)
TFT 2 Heroes & Magic Users ($2.95)
TFT 3 The Dwarves ($2.95)
TFT 4 Elves (S2.95)
TFT 5 Labyrinth Dwellers No. T ($2.95)
(giant, ogre, bear, wolves, gargoyles)
TFT 6 Ores No. 1-6 swordsmen, 6 pole axe ($2.95)
TFT 7 Hobgoblins No. 1 - 6 swordsmen, 6 spears ($2.95)
TFT 8 One-hex Dragon (S2.95)
TFT 9 Ores No. 2 - Bows & Crossbow ($2.95)
TFT 10 Hobgoblins No. 2 - 6 bows, 6 axes ($2.95)
TFT 1 1 Labyrinth Dwellers No. 2 ($2.95)
(spiders, scorpions, slimes, molds)
TFT 12 Seven-hex Dragon ($7.95)
OGR 1 OGRE MK V M.95)
METAGAMING'S &* q~
Clje Jfantagp Crip
15 mm Fantasy Gaming Figures I
. •^•■^S. ■ < - -.
P.O. BOX 15346
AUSTIN, TX 78761
Due to the mailing weight of these Mircoture packages,
they must be ordered subject to the following conditions:
1.) Three Microture packages or more is the minimum
order. Orders for only one or two Microture
packages will be returned.
2.) A postage and handling fee of SI .00 per order must
accompany each order for Microtures.
3.) Subscribers to THE SPACE GAMER are exempt
from the $1.00 postage and handling fee.
MANUFACTURED UNDER LICENSE BY:
P.O. BOX 947
COPPERAS COVE, TX 76522
(Editors Note: Dave Arneson is one of
the men most responsible for the creation
of fantasy gaming. He had a major role
in the creation of the classic DUNGEONS
& DRAGONS, published by TSR Hob-
bies, Inc. Dave is an active freelance
game designer residing in St. Paul. We
look forward to seeing more of Dave's
work in the future.)
THE SPACE GAMER: When did you
start gaming in general?
ARNESON: I have gamed since the
early 60's with Avalon Hill games and
with miniatures since 1965. I came up
with the usual "variants" and "new
games" using existing systems and a few
"mythical" campaigns, including a very
gross 1984 game.
TSG: What sort of education and
experience did you have that might have
prepared you for game design?
ARNESON: My major in college was
history with minors in ROTC and politi-
cal science. I worked as a ticket seller
at the state fair in the summer and, after
graduation (and a 4-F from the Army)
as a security guard. Other than the
general knowledge that gets rubbed off
on one while in school, that was my
background. My games education just
TSG: What were your earliest designs?
ARNESON: My first "published"
work was DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP,
written in the early 70's with Don Lowry.
This was the result of a large Napoleonic
miniatures campaign (which I refereed)
for the local group. I feel this refereeing
of the local Napoleonic campaign was
what really provided me with the back-
ground and education that I needed when
it came to games creation.
TSG: How did you get started in
fantasy gaming? The original DUN-
GEONS & DRAGONS rules refer to the
Castle and Crusade society.
ARNESON: My first fantasy game
was a ridiculous affair where an elephant
in an ANCIENTS game got fried by a
Phaser! I have the honor of being the
referee who authorized that gambit.
I survived the player riot quite well; of
course, it was my table, troops, house,
and I was heavily armed. Some time
passed before I tried the fantasy bit
The Castle and Crusade Society was an
offshoot of the old International Federa-
tion of Wargaming, now defunct. The
C&C society was devoted to play with
miniatures in a medieval setting. I was
the assistant herald in the society. Its
newsletter was a forum for articles on
medieval weaponry, battle reports, games
and a new "thing" called fantasy. The
later was quite "traditional," being
devoted to a few mentions of hobbits,
combat factors, and the like.
The Society set up a mythical map
where "kingdoms" were assigned to the
"lords" of the Society and a society-wide
campaign, using medievals was proposed,
which never got anywhere. My DUN-
GEONS & DRAGONS co-author and
Robert Kuntz were both active in running
and setting up the C&C society.
TSG: There was also another Minnea-
polis club named.
ARNESON: The Minneapolis group
known as the MMSA, Midwest Military
Simulations Association, became active
in the late 60's. It became the first
recognized "wargame" Club at the
University of Minnesota and at the
College of St. Thomas.
TSG: How did you come to create
that infamous first campaign, BLACK-
ARNESON: In the early part of the
70's our group was fully engaged in a
far flung Napoleonic campaign which I
refereed. One Saturday after reading
several S&S novels, eating popcorn, and
watching horror/monster movies all day,
I designed a maze-like dungeon and pop-
ulated it with ores and similar beasties.
The next day my erstwhile emperors
and czars arrived to view a table-top
now dominated by my old Kibri castle
with scattered forests and a town. After
several groans about trying something
new (i.e. not Napoleonic), the first band
of heroes entered the, now well worn,
main staricase. So the Midwest Military
Simulation Association began to explore
Once begun they were hooked and for
some months they plumbed the depths.
Even years later the original explorers/
adventurers will regail all comers with
stories about their exploits.
TSG: How did you meet Gary Gygax
and Rob Kuntz?
ARNESON: I had met both of them
years before at Gen Con III when I was
selling some wooden ship models at the
auction. I believe that was 1972.
TSG: How did your involvement with
TSR Hobbies develop in those early days?
ARNESON: When TSR got going in
1974, it was strictly a Lake Geneva
operation with Don Kaye (d. 1975)
and my co-author, Gary Gygax. Don was
the major money man at the time.
When business began expanding in
1975, due to D&D, it was planned that
I, and others, would move to Lake
Geneva in 1976 to help run things first
hand. Up until that time, I was busy
lining up EMPIRE OF THE PETAL
THRONE and DUNGEON for TSR, plus
working on fantasy rules and games
as well as on my own projects. My
intention was to act as an agent in finding
new and interesting projects for TSR.
DUNGEON, FIGHT IN THE SKY,
STAR EMPIRES, STAR PROBE, EM-
PIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE, LE-
GIONS OF THE PETAL THRONE, and
several others came to TSR from Minne-
It was, however, GenCon that first
brought us all together before there was
any D&D or TSR.
TSG: Your name is carried as co-
designer of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.
How did you and Gary Gygax handle
the work of a joint game design?
ARNESON: By phone and correspon-
dence. There were also a couple week-
ends in Lake Geneva, but the final draft
was done by phone and mail. I was not
consulted on many aspects of the final
work and in BLACKMOOR and FIRST
FANTASY CAMPAIGN have tried to
show where I would have liked DUN-
GEONS & DRAGONS to have gone.
It is, however, an almost universal truth
that game designers are rarely satisfied
with the way their work comes out.
TSG: How was the final rules draft
ARNESON: All editing on the final
draft was done in Lake Geneva and I did
not see it before it went to press. It was
very much a case of me providing various
ideas and concepts but not having any say
as to how they were used. I am reluctant
to say more due to the present legal
TSG: What was your participation in
the establishment of TSR?
ARNESON: I helped establish the
company via DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.
TSR would have folded in '75 with only
CAVILIERS AND ROUNDHEADS and
TRICOLOR in its inventory. With the
games and people I helped line up for
them, TSR got that boost it needed to
get going. All the money in the world
would not have given it the ten fold
increase in size between '75 and '74.
It was DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, EPT
and hard workers like Carr (FITS) and
Megarry (DUNGEON) that made it soar.
TSG: What is your current involve-
ment, if any, with TSR?
ARNESON: My current involvement
with TSR as a game designer is zero as it
has been since 1976. I am a stockholder.
I am also paid royalties for some of the
work I have had published by TSR.
TSG: How active is your current
ARNESON: My current campaign,
the first, has seen players in all parts of
the country. It has been played twice at
San Francisco, several times in Texas,
many times in Wisconsin, and in other
areas as well. It is still going and still
contains many of the original players,
if not their characters! On average,
nowadays, we meet once a month if I am
available. Most of the original group of
dungeoneers that are still active now have
their own dungeons, but these are not
directly associated with BLACKMOOR.
TSG: How do you view the present
state of fantasy role gaming?
ARNESON: The present state of fan-
tasy gaming is chaotic and pretty con-
fused at best. Of the vast amount
of fantasy products out today, more than
a few are trash and not worth the paper
they're printed on. Yet, within even the
most horrid product there can be found
some useful facet that can be incorpo-
rated into an existing campaign. I am
appalled at the overall flood of stuff and
would have preferred a more orderly
approach; but, the nature of the beast
prevents that. Fantasy is imagination and
most, I hesitate to say all, people's
imaginations are different, just as each
person is different. And, imaginations do
tend to be unruly.
So what is the point? Is all this acti-
vity good or bad? I believe that it is a
good and healthy sign that bodes well for
the future. The junk will get thrown out
and some equilibrium reached in times
(at least I hope so!) to come. There is
more to come, that's for sure folks!!
TSG: What is your current status with
Heritage? Among other rumors, we'd
heard you'd moved to Dal/as. Are you
an employee, freelance designer, under
ARNESON: I am freelance. I publish
with whom I please. I live in Minnesota
where most of my friends and family
reside at present. My agreement with
Heritage is only a right of first refusal
and nothing more. Mostly they have
refused. I also found a few titles for
them and edited some rules, all on a fee
basis. Thus, at this time, my involve-
ment is minimal and I am not an em-
TSG: Does your association with
Heritage indicate some sort of break
with TSR and Gary Gygax? Our rumor
sources indicate lawsuits and other
animosity between the two firms.
ARNESON: As I said I am not direct-
ly working for any particular company.
I am at present involved in a legal
suit with TSR Hobbies over DUNGEONS
& DRAGONS royalties. Beyond that I
am not free to comment on my relations
with TSR to any great extent.
TSR and Heritage settled their case
over the use of the words DUNGEONS
& DRAGONS in Heritage's advertising.
Heritage won. Beyond court costs,
no major money was involved, that
I know of. There is no love lost between
the two. I understand that the case may
be reopening soon.
TSG: Do you have any involvement
with Judges Guild or any other gaming
ARNESON: With Chaosium, Fantasy
Games Unlimited, Discovery Games, and
Adventures Unlimited (my own tax
shelter and company!), plus 4D Inter-
active Systems, a Rochester Minnesota
TSG: Do you have new game designs
in the works now?
ARNESON: SAMURAI (Chaosium or
ADVENTURES IN FANTASY (Heri-
tage or Fantasy Games)
GUIDE TO FANTASY (Heritage)
KING SOLOMON'S MINES (Disco-
very Games), supplement to Source of
ISLAND OF THE WOLF (Judges
Guild), D&D playing aid
CITY OF THE GODS (Judges Guild),
D&D playing aid
There are also several less advanced pro-
TSG: Do you see yourself making a
living from gaming?
ARNESON: I am making a living
from gaming, not much but nice. Of
course, being a bachelor helps!
TSG: What do you hope to do in
gaming over the next five or ten years?
ARNESON: Computer and video
games are where the game industry is
going, with a vengeance!! I hope to
increase the emphasis on role playing
adventure games and get away from the
purely fantasy type games. I especially
want to get players away from the
emphasis on booty and high body counts.
TSG: Do you view yourself as a
miniatures gamer more than a board ga-
mer? How do you view the differences
between the two?
ARNESON: Miniatures! A miniature
by its very nature requires more prepara-
tion and care. That affects the whole
viewpoint and outlook of the players.
The miniatures provide players with a
more easily grasped 3D picture of what
is going on and lets them identify with
it more readily.
TSG: Most gamers have their ups and
downs. What was your single biggest
disappointment as a gamer?
ARNESON: When I saw what was
happening at TSR and was forced to
leave. I had very great hopes, as we all
did at the start, for setting the hobby on
its ear. It was sad to see the paper
mache facade put up in place of steel and
As a game participant it was the end-
ing of a Civil War campaign in which I
was a reb. Mostly because I was having
a ball playing in a miniatures' campaign,
my first in years, and I was winning!!
On to St. Louis!!! The poor referee just
ran out of time and steam. He was doing
a great job though and I loved playing
for a change.
TSG: Do you feel that game designers
should receive game awards?
ARNESON: Yes! Writers win them
for their books! Ball players win awards!
So why are game designers different,
you tell me.
ARNESON: What is Metagaming's
TSG: Metagaming feels that gaming
should give awards to designers. The
designers may become confused in some
companies that have group efforts, but
designer awards are preferable. Com-
panies receive their reward at the bottom
of income statements.
TSG: What would you think of sepa-
rate designer and company awards?
ARNESON: Fine, but make it clear
who is getting an award for what and
why, for superior marketing or doing
a good game.
TSG: You have been involved in a
dispute over the Charles Roberts awards
and H.G. Wells awards. What led to the
ARNESON: At the awards ceremony
I went up to receive the DUNGEONS &
DRAGONS awards. This was disputed by
a represenative of TSR at the ceremony.
As a result, I only received one of the
awards won by DUNGEONS & DRA-
GONS, the rest going to TSR. After
the ceremony, TSR protested to the
people running the convention that I
return the award. The convention
people then asked me to return the
award, stating that the awards went to
the publishers, not the designers of
the games which win.
I refused to return the award. I
stated that (1) no one had ever an-
nounced that companies, not designers
are winners, and (2) it seemed grossly
unreasonable that the publisher of say
"Lord of the Rings" would receive
literary awards for the book and not
the author. I sent off a protest to Simu-
lations Publications, Inc., Avalon Hill,
Metro Detroit Gamers, and John Mans-
field, all of whom were involved in the
MDG made up an award for TSR, but
otherwise never replied to me. AH said
it was right that companies were the ones
to receive the awards. SPI called and said
that next year awards would go to both
the company and the designer. Mansfield
also indicated that there would be chan-
ges next year.
As to my getting any of this year's
award, SPI and MDG said that there was
not much chance (i.e. tough luck, but
aren't you happy it will be different
in the future!).
You, Too, Can run A MicroTournament
Small Games, Small Headaches
Guy W. McLimoreJr.
Ohio Valley Wargaming Association
If you are a member of a wargaming
club, chances are you've talked about
holding a tournament. And, if your club
is like most clubs, all you've done is talk,
because talk is the only easy part of tour-
Realistically speaking, tournaments are
a big, big job. Over half the problem is
caused by the big, big nature of many
wargames. Games take time to learn, and
time to play. The complex nature of
most wargames multiplies the hassles in
planning a tournament. Long, complex
games require more referees and a larger
tournament site which can be used for
long periods of time (sometimes two or
three days). More complicated games
also limit participation to those players
familiar with that game. Even gamers
who are familiar with a game may back
off from tournament play. They may not
be comfortable enough with it, or are too
unsure of their own abilities in gaming to
risk competition in any "official" way.
All this leaves most clubs at the talk
stage of tournaments. Few gaming
organizations have the personnel and
money to overcome the problems.
Even when conventions are held, they are
really not a place for inexperienced
gamers to be competing.
Then, enter the MicroGame, and exit
a lot of problems for tournament organi-
zers. MicroGames are fast, and even a
new player can learn how to play quickly.
This means fewer judges and less time
needed for a tourney. Micros are perfect
for a small club's first tournament, or
even for a small, quick, fun event for a
larger club with tournament experience.
Of course, no tournament, even a
Microtournament, is a total snap to put
together. (Sorry, gang, but there ain't no
such thing as a free lunch. . .). But, a
Microtournament eliminates many of the
usual problems so a tournament director
can concentrate on other, important
points. As for the problems, perhaps a
few hints can minimize them.
The absolute first thing one should do
when it has been decided to hold a
Microtournament is select and reserve
a tournament site. Select and reserve
(note the emphasis. . .)! In planning
their recent Microtournament, the Ohio
Valley Wargaming Association discovered
at the last minute that their "reserved"
site wasn't reserved after all, necessitating
a last-minute change in location. All
turned out for the best, as the second
site was far superior to the original, but
it could have been very embarrassing.
(Wasn't it nice of us to make mistakes
so you could avoid them. . .?)
When picking a tournament site, cost
will probably be the major factor. Start
checking with local colleges and univer-
sities, community centers, organizations
like veterans' groups or armed forces
reserve units, etc. Many of theses groups
have meeting rooms or auditoriums
that a club can get cheap (or even free)
with a little explanation and PR about
Remember, your site should have
plenty of tables and chairs available. It
should be relatively quiet and apart from
non-gaming activities. (Yes, I know it
won't be quiet for long, but at least you
can limit the amount of noise from
nearby non-gaming activities.) It would
be nice if snacks and drinks (at least
a soft drink machine) were available
nearby. Gamers get hungry and thirsty
between rounds. Parking and acces-
sibility of the site to area gamers is ano-
ther consideration to make.
What games you play should be
determined by what is popular in your
area. MELEE and WIZARD are especial-
ly good for tournament play, since they
are simulations of arena combat. OGRE
and G.E.V. can be played tournament
style as well. Try combining the two
games into one tournament, starting
the first round with the basic scenario
or OGRE and adding more units and
optional rules for each successive round
In fact, there are no bad choices
among the Metagaming MicroGames.
All are quick-play games lending them-
selves to elimination play. Try for a
variety of game styles, mixing fantasy and
Of course, there must be something
for the winners. Your local hobby shop
or bookstore that sells MicroGames is
the first place your club should look for
help in providing prizes. Most likely, the
owner will be all too happy to provide
some prizes for the tournament. (If it
is a large shop, there might be room to
hold the event right there.) Be sure and
support your "sponsor" by mentioning
his generosity on posters and in news
releases and the tournament program.
This brings the discussion neatly
around to publicity. This may be the
single most important area of planning,
since it is publicity that will determine
the final success or lack thereof of your
Microtournament. It is important to get
the word out as soon as plans (site,
games, prizes, etc.) are finalized for the
event. Start with posters in local war-
game shops, on college campuses, and
other places where gamers (and potential
gamers among the SF/fantasy fans) get
together. Also, prepare notices (typed,
double-spaced, and NEAT, please!) for
wargaming publications that run tourna-
ment information. Include all important
information about the event, plus the
address and phone number of the tourna-
ment director. If there is an entry fee
(and there should be at least a token fee-
50 cents to $1 is plenty), be sure and list
that, too. Don't forget that magazines
have a "lead time" of several months.
You must plan to get your news releases
in at least 3 to 4 months before the event,
if you expect them printed in time.
Metagaming and the TSG staff were
of tremendous help with the publicity
for the Ohio Valley Microtournament,
publishing tournament notices in TSG's
News and Plugs column and even allowing
the use of their copyrighted advertising
art-with proper copyright notices at-
tached-in publicity posters.
Publicity should build slowly to a peak
about one week before the event. If the
publicity effort peaks too soon, the
gamers have time to forget about the
whole thing before the day of the event.
Send local newspaper and broadcast
releases out about a week before the
event. Do go back about this time and
make sure the posters you put up are
still where you put them. Replace
posters that have fallen or been removed.
Ask your hobby shop/bookstore to stuff
a small flyer about the event in with
every game or SF-related purchase during
this last week.
For the tournament itself, your most
important resource is your group of
judges. Judges should not be playing
in tournament rounds to protect their
impartiality. Post the official rules early
(in the case of MELEE, OGRE and
possibly other games, note which printing
of the rules is being officially adopted)
and be sure to post any "house rules"
you will be using. In the case of a dispute,
the game referee or judge has the final
say. Final! A tournament director or
sponsor should keep his mouth firmly
shut, and stand behind a judge's decision,
even if the director or sponsor is not in
total agreement. For this reason, choose
only judges who are cool-headed and
Judges should settle disputes with
quiet dignity, tact, and firmness. Don't
argue, just state your decision and the
reasoning behind it. Then, stick with
it. Most gamers are rugged individualists,
but they respect the voice of authority
if handled rationally. In those rare cases
where a gamer exhibits extremely poor
sportsmanship, don't let him/her spoil
everyone else's fun. Show him/her
With Micros, several different tour-
nament rounds may be going at the same
time if allowances are made for those
gamers who may be entered in two or
more events. Inevitably, there will be
times when players will be "between
rounds" with time to kill. Of course,
there should be a lot of open gaming
going on. (Try the "Let's you and him
fight" ploy on two gamers who have
never met. There is no faster way to
make friends than to be enemies across
a game table.) It doesn't hurt to have a
few extra things planned as well. The
Ohio Valley event featured a demon-
stration of computer games on the Bally
ARCADE and Radio Shack TRS-80.
Also, a local dealer had a display
and sales table set up. Your club may
even want to sell things to raise money.
Try a used game auction or a bunch of
buttons with wargame/SF/fantasy-orien-
ted sayings. (My favorite is "Wargamers
do it at3-to-1l")
A little bit of pomp and circumstance
when presenting the winners with prizes
and trophies is quite appropriate. Make
sure to send out press releases identifying
winners- good play deserves recognition.
These are just a few guidelines for
Microtournament organization. Each
individual sponsoring group will have
their own set of special problems to work
out. Just remember the cardinal rule of
tournament planning- games are for
having fun. If you have fun planning, and
plan so the players have fun playing,
things will go smoothly.
The MicroGame is perfect for tourna-
ment play, and the Microtournament
is perfect for a club's first event. Give it a
try, and you may find tournaments
aren't the impossible task they seem to
be. (Believe me, if we did it, so can you!)
Playing the Odds
OGRE & G.E.V.
From the time you first play a solitaire
game of OGRE, you know it's one game
in which you throw the dice a lot. Be-
cause the two games are so similar, you
quickly find out the same thing about
If you are a newcomer to wargaming,
you might think any game in which you
throw the dice so much is ruled by luck.
The judgment is understandable, but
In fact, OGRE and G.E.V. are probab-
ly less ruled by chance than many other
games that rely on dice for combat
resolution. The law of averages favors
the evening of die rolls over the course
of any game where that die is thrown
many times. The more often you roll
the die, the more likely it is that you will
get as many high numbers as low ones,
as many even numbers as odd, etc.
This does not mean bad throws early
in a game are likely to be followed by
good throws later. It merely indicates
that games with a high number of die
rolls will have a higher likelihood of
giving each player equal treatment than
in games in which the die is rolled only
a few times.
All this talk of die-rolling means two
things for the wargamer: 1) except in
rare cases, the player who plays most
skillfully will win the game; and 2) a
player who can use probabilities better
than his opponent will have a substantial
advantage in the long run.
OGRE and G.E.V. both give each
player ample opportunity to use his
knowledge of probabilities. Take the
common problem of how to allocate
attacks to inflict the maximum expected
damage on an enemy target for a given
firepower. For example, a player is often
faced with the decision of whether to
attack one enemy unit with one 2-1
attack, or to attack the same target two
times (with different units, of course) at
1-1 each. Which is the better attack?
The answer is two 1-1 shots. How do
you figure? Let's go over the procedure.
On a sheet of paper, list the 36 combi-
nations in which two dice can be thrown
(1/1, 1/2, . . .,6/6). For each combina-
tion, pretend that each number is a die
roll resolving a 1-1 attack, and write
down the result of two combined 1-1
attacks on the unit. (For the sake of
argument, let's suppose the target is an
armored, non-OGRE unit.)
The combination 1/1, therefore,
would have an effect of NE, while a com-
bination 3/4 would have an X effect.
(The 3 would bring a D result, and the 4
would bring another D result on top of
the already disabled unit.)
Follow this procedure for armored
units, then repeat it for infantry units
and again for OGREs, remembering the
different handling of D combat results for
each unit type (infantry units are not
disabled by D results, but simply lose one
step- OGREs ignore D results altogether).
When you are finished, add up the num-
ber of X, D, and NE results.
What you find may surprise you.
While a single 2-1 attack against an
armored unit gives a 50% chance of X,
a 33% chance of D, and a 17% chance of
NE, two 1-1 attacks give a 67% chance of
X, a 22% chance of D, and only an 1 1%
chance of an NE result. That means
two 1-1 attacks have a better chance of
destroying the unit outright than a 2-1
attack, and less chance of missing.
Results with other units are almost as
favorable. With infantry as the target.
two 1-1 attacks give a 56% chance of X,
an 11% chance of two D's, a 22% chance
of obtaining a single D, and an 11%
chance of NE. Against an OGRE, two
1-1 attacks have a 56% chance of an X,
compared to a 50% chance with the
2-1 attack alone.
Even these numbers do not tell the
whole story. Splitting the 2-1 attack into
two 1-1 's gives the attacker a chance
to destroy the target with the first shot,
thereby saving some firepower for ano-
ther target. Against infantry units, there
is also the possibility of obtaining two
consecutive D results, reducing a target
unit from a "3" to a "1".
After obtaining these interesting re-
sults for two 1-1 's vs. a single 2-1 attack,
I investigated some other possible com-
binations an OGRE or G.E.V. player
might be tempted to try. The results are
shown in the accompanying table.
Obviously, not all the combinations
proved to be as favorable for the player
who wants to use the "spread-out-the-
attack" strategy. Still, it helps to know
those percentages. Also keep in mind
that the percentages given in the table are
the chances of obtaining a particular
result on a given target for the overall
combination of attacks, or for the single
attack to which the combination is
compared. Inconducting several attacks,
there is always the possibility that an X
result will be obtained on an early shot.
This must be considered, along with the
urgency of your position, in apportioning
It can be shown mathematically that,
in evaluating combinations of attacks
involving two different odds (the 2-1
and 1-1 vs. the 3-1, the 1-2 and 1-1 vs.
the 2-1), the order of attacks makes no
difference; the chances of obtaining X,
D, and NE results remain exactly the
Assessments of the effectiveness of
each combination attack in place of the
single attack to which it is compared
Two 1-1's vs. one 2-1: Two 1-1
attacks are equal or better on every
count, against every target.
Two 1-2's vs. one 1-1: The two
1-2 attacks come close, but are slightly
less favorable than the single 1-1 attack.
Two 2-1's vs. one 4-1: Percentages
favor the 4-1, but not by much. The big
difference is that two 2-1's give you a
small chance of missing entirely, whereas
the 4-1 gives you none. Two 2-1's would
be an intelligent choice where you want
to economize firepower.
1-2 and 1-1 vs. 2-1: The 2-1 attack is
2-1 and 1-1 vs. 3-1: If target is an
armored unit, you are better off spread-
ing out the attack. If target is an infan-
try or OGRE unit, the 3-1 attack is
Three 1- i's vs. one 3- 1: If the target is
armor or infantry, three 1-1's are defin-
itely better. If target is an OGRE, the
3-1 is just slightly better- but since two
1-1 shots give nearly a fifty percent
chance of destroying the target, three
1-1's might still be an attractive option.
Three 1-2's vs. one 2-1: The three
1-2's are not to be tried.
CHANCE (%) OF OBTAINING GIVEN RESULT
THROUGH ATTACK COMBINATIONS AND SINGLE ATTACKS
Target is: ARMOR
X D NE
X -2 -1 NE
vs. one 2-1
vs. one 1-1
vs. one 4-1
vs. one 2-1
vs. one 3-1
vs. one 3-1
vs. one 2-1
11 22 11
3 22 44
75 11 11 3
6 28 22
67 11 17 6
43 6 22 30
50 33 17
Figures shown are percentage chances of obtaining a given result.
SPACESHIP MINIATURES & RULES
Wargaming has traditionally been split
into two broad categories: the familiar
board game with (usually) a map and
cardboard counters, and miniatures, ga-
ming which utilizes miniature castings
of metal or plastic and is played without
benefit of hexgrid, on any large, flat
It has only been recently that Science-
Fiction gaming has become popular
enough to warrant its own, specialized
lines of miniatures. The general rise in
popularity of the SF gaming genre has
led, in just the last few years, to a pro-
liferation of miniatures lines dealing
with the subject. While both tactical
surface combat (ala STARSHIP TRO-
OPERS) and ship to ship fighting now
have representative pieces available, the
scope of this article allows me to deal
only with the latter.
Spaceship miniatures offer consider-
able interest because unlike tactical
infantry figures which are restricted for
a number of reasons, (the foremost
most being anatomical considerations),
more artistic license is allowed. Some of
the designs presently offered are quite
impressive, both in general design and
Coupled with the increase in ship
models available are the rules to go with
them. In some cases, the rules are de-
signed to be used with a certain line of
models, while others are more general
and can be adopted for any models.
Some rules deal with science fiction
sources familiar to us such as TV's
Star Trek. Gamescience's STARFLEET
BATTLE MANUAL is the culmination
of a number of years' work in the minia-
tures field by its designer, Lou Zocchi.
It is a third generation game, using and
building on the system first pioneered
in THE STAR TREK BATTLE MANUAL
and later, refined in ALIEN SPACE. The
first game was sold without any license
from Paramount, a situation the produc-
tion company quickly remedied by
threatening to sue if any more copies
were sold. (This, incidently, made the
game something of a collector's item.)
Not long after, Zocchi came out with
ALIEN SPACE, an expanded game
using the same basic system as the ill-
fated STAR TREK game. Then, in 1976,
the final rules offering appeared, with a
return to the Star Trek theme, but this
time with Paramount's blessing.
As far as the rules system goes, the
STARFLEET BATTLE MANUAL carries
on the traditions of the first games. Each
ship has a record sheet covered in plastic
and to be written on with a grease pencil.
Per-turn power allocations from the en-
gines are distributed between shields,
phasers (or other weapons in the case of
ALIEN SPACE), torpedoes, sensing, life
support and movement. The STAR
TREK game allows for shields in dif-
ferent quadrants to be set at different
power levels. Combat is handled unique-
ly, in that each ship has a square, 3"x3"
cardstock template with a to 360
compass described around it, and a five
foot length of string fixed to the center.
The firing player calls out a degree
heading and stretches the string out
along it; if it crosses an opposing ship
there is a hit and phaser power is com-
pared to shields to determine damage.
The game rules are good, and give an
accurate feel for the Star Trek setting.
There is enough detail in the rules that
each player can have an enjoyable game
captaining one or two ships. More
players can easily be fitted in by using
multi-commanders per side.
Miniatures are available only for the
STARFLEET game. They are of plastic
and about two inches long. Detail is
minor, but then the ships in the series
were rather smooth hulled. Each comes
with pylon for mounting. Pieces in the
set are four types of Federation craft:
scout, destroyer, dreadnought and cru-
sier, a Klingon battle-crusier, Romulan
Bird of Prey and a Tholian. Models
range in price from $2 to S3. It should
be noted however, that the templates
mentioned above are the only thing
essential to the play of the game; one
could easily forgo the ship models if he
wished, though they do add consider-
able visual appeal.
Also based on Star Trek (but not
coming right out and saying it) is Wee
Warriors' THE EMBATTLED TREK.
Like the Gamescience rules, cardstock
ships are included, being incredibly
baroque in design. The rules are fairly
simple, only three pages long, and once
again depend on energy allocation among
various ship systems.
Two companies offer complete minia-
tures systems (ship models and coordi-
nated rules sets.) The oldest is McEwan
Miniatures with their STARWAR 2250
ships and rules.
The rules are one of the more exten-
sive, being 44 pages long and containing
both tactical and strategic rules as well as
an outline on merging the game with
McEwan's successful line of ground
troops, STARGUARD. The strategic
rules allow for exploration, variable
planet types, indigenous populations, and
the creation of outposts and colonies.
The tactical rules are well thought out,
though parts come across somewhat
murkier than one would like. There are
status charts for each ship class (you need
to make copies before playing). These
form the basis for play. Ships move by
vector, in three dimensions. Combat is
by a varied array of weapons: lasers,
torpedoes, Anti-Matter Projectors, and
splinter head missiles (something of a
tactical MIRV). Defensive system include
screens and anti-torpedo rockets. All of
the weapons differ from one another in
significant ways, but their individual
rules are not so complex as to make play
tedious. Damage is figured in structure
points which accumulate towards the
final destruction of the craft. A large
amount of special damage results knock
out turrets, launchers and other indivi-
The McEwan line of ships is intended
specifically for these rules. It includes,
at present, sixteen types of ships (not all
of which are covered in the rules, imply-
ing an expansion kit. The models are in
lead, and the designs are fairly traditional.
The Federation (Earth) craft are all
needle-nosed and delta winged. The hulls
are streamlined and details, such as laser
blisters and vision ports, are all that are
present. This makes painting and prepa-
ration time fairly short. Another advan-
tage of this line is their relative inexpen-
siveness: ships are priced from 50 cents
to S1, most being 75 cents.
Superior Models also offers a coordi-
nated set of rules/pieces, under the
heading STARFLEET WARS. The rules
come boxed, along with a destroyer
model from each of the five races in the
game. This reviewer is not particularly
fond of this packaging tactic since it
ups the price of the rules package consi-
derably, and essentially forces the buyer
to purchase models he may not want.
The rules are simple, fast and clean.
Ships have offensive and defensive
factors which they may power from their
power quota. Firing is conducted by
rolling percentage dice (provided) on
a chart, matrixing speed and distance.
Damage is taken only in terms of power
units. The advanced rules add a little
more variety. Special rules are included
for fighters, both in intercept and attack
roles, a close-in defense system against
fighters, (actually just a percentage roll
to destroy attacking fighters), board-
ing!?), an energy damping field, invisi-
bility shields, and particle weapons. The
latter pierces opposing shields and have
the ability to inflict some rather incon-
sequential special damage.
The Superior line of starships includes
ships of five races (Human, Avarian,
Entomalian, Aquarian, Carnivoran) and
each race has a representative Dread-
nought, attack carrier, battlecruiser, cruis-
er, and destroyer as well as a fighter. The
models have a lot of detail (bordering on
the garish) and are bristling with turrets,
sensor modules and a variety of other
odds and ends whose purposes we can
only guess at. My major criticism of the
ship designs is, for some reason, the
designer felt it neccessary that the ships
in some way resemble the race that
built them. Hence, Carnivoran ships
have a cat-like appearance, and the
Aquarians look like turtles. Only the
Terran ships don't look this way, and
they, well I'm surprised the Star Wars
Corporation hasn't sued over the resemb-
lence to their "Imperial Stardestroyer"!
The ship pieces are fairly large and expen-
sive, the large ships running upwards of
Taken as a whole, the Superior line is
something of a dissappointment. The
ships are not, at least in my opinion very
appealing. They are high priced, and
the rules have a sort of thrown together
Valiant Miniatures offers one of the
oldest (if not the oldest) lines of lead
spaceships available. The ships are
very detailed with fuel lines, weapons,
and other equipment visible. In direct
contrast to the McEwan ships, these are
obviously not intended to land on sur-
faces, with their protruding guns and
round command modules. Only the
smaller craft appear capable of planet
This line is divided into humans
(the ubiquitous Federation again) and
aliens. The alien ships are truly bizarre
looking, though similar enough in general
design to mesh with the Earth vessels.
Various heavy ships are available (1 or 2
per package at $3.50): Heavy cruisers,
battlecruisers, escorts and destroyers.
Smaller craft (4-15 per package) include
scouts, interceptors, assault ships, and
three kinds of fighters. Valiant also has
available fleet supply ships and hyper-
space submarines (?). More ships are
planned. One nice touch, these ships are
made to fit on stands Valiant provides
(in separate packages), and thus look
much better on the gaming table.
No rules are specified for these ships.
The designers offer a few suggestions in
the instruction/brochure included in each
package, and the gamer interested can
check out any of the rules reviewed later
in this article that are not intended for
any particular miniatures line.
A similar case exists with the "Space
Squadrons 2998" from Grenadier, the
most recent of the space fleet lines to
appear. The Grenadier castings come in
blister packs for S3. 50. Each pack con-
tains one battleship or two cruisers (one
heavy, one light) or eight fighters, for
either the (you guessed it) Earth Feder-
ation or Alien Invasion Fleet. In addition
there are three packs representing the
Auxiliary Belt Fleet, two being cruiser
types and the latter being fighters. A
fourth group is the Tech-World fleet
consisting entirely of support ships
(minelayers, refuelers, etc). The Grena-
dier line is unique in that it is only one
to feature a spacestation, "Battlestation
Armageddon" is built by buying various
kits (such as platforms or installations
and accessories) and fitting them together
as the gamer sees fit. Unfortunately, the
result (if the photograph in the catalog
is any indication), is a daddylonglegs
with laser mounts.
On the whole, the Grenadier line is
a nice compromise between the simplicity
and economical price of the McEwan
line and the detail and expense of the
Valiant. The castings are of high quality
and nice detail. Some of the ships, such
as the Aurora class Attack Cruiser are
A final line to be reviewed is that
offered by Minifigs. This is a rather
scattered collection of ten ships spread
over four races. The line has been out for
a number of years and no additions
have been made, so one can conjecture
that Minifigs is not pushing the SF
The nice thing about this group is the
price. The catalog I have (about a year
old) lists prices ranging from 25-60cents
per ship, comparing very favorably to any
of the lines listed above. The castings
though, are small, and at least to my
sense of esthetics, kind of weird looking.
Minifigs also offers a fair range of infan-
try coordinating with the spaceship races,
but the same brand of "originality" of
design seems to extend to these as well.
If you are looking for a set of rules
to go with those miniatures that don't
have a coordinating rules volume, or are
unhappy with those that do, the follow-
ing three are some of the best.
GALACTIC WAR by Tabletop games
features some nice, introductory level
rules that are easily adaptable to any
model series. Ships have beginning
levels of energy to be expended on
movement, weapons and shield. The
fuel level is finite though, and falls
rapidly. A unique four-phase system
(requiring written orders) allows for some
second guessing. Because ships may not
have screens up in the same phase as they
fire, firing ships are not very vulnerable.
Once torpedoes and lasers get through the
screen there is a table to roll on to
determine what is hit. Three classes of
ships, with varying energy levels, and
rear and forward firing laser guns and
torpedo tubes are included. Some nice
cardstock ships, printed in color are
A more sophisticated effort can be
found in STAR COMMAND. These
rules provide an outline for a strategic
game and some interesting historical
background and psuedo-scientific ma-
terial, along with some good solid tactical
rules. Four classes of ships are listed for
both the Terrans and aliens, though they
vary slightly for each side. Weapons
include beams, lasers, and seeker missiles;
defense is by screens. As in most rules,
per turn energy to the various systems
is the core of the system. One fairly
clever idea is that the ships are allowed
to carry a given number of weapons;
type is left up to the player. The variety
of weapons, each using a different CRT
and a little adaptation would make these
rules suitable for any model series the
gamer might use.
A final rules booklet, STELLAR
WARS, makes a massive attempt to be
the rules for all model lines. Forsaking
any particular "historical" or technical
framework, these rules list a myriad
of offensive, defensive, and propulsion
systems all given values in the game and
assigned a certain point cost for building.
The broadbase of systems available would
allow castings from any and all of the
above model lines to fight side by side.
Towards the end of the book is a compi-
lation of ship pieces available by various
manufacturers and a guide to intergrating
them into a campaign. A good effort,
but a little cluttered.
To a much greater degree than board-
gaming, miniatures require time. A
boardgame can be broken out, the rules
read, and play started in a single after-
noon. Miniatures are a totally different
case. There is considerable preparation
involved before play can even begin.
Painting requires some skill, but more
important is patience. Casting can be
given a hurry-up-and-let's play paint
job taking twenty minutes or so, or the
gamer can opt for a showcase effort, with
every line perfect and every detail taken
care of. The gamer working with space-
ships is more fortunate than those work-
ing with figures, since he can get away
with less detail on the ships. Still each
model must be cleaned, flash removed,
primer applied, and finally, painted.
Stands and other play aids might also
need to be constructed.
Another major consideration is mo-
ney. Unlike boardgames, which, for the
most part, only require a one time outlay
of $10-315, building a decent size fleet
for two opposing sides can be fairly
expensive. With the vast majority of the
model lines mentioned here, this could
run upwards of S35-S50 for just mode-
rate forces. Most miniatures players
make a very large initial purchase and add
on as funds allow. Another way to get
around this is to play in groups, with
certain players providing the ships for one
side. Tools must also be taken into
account, as the models can't be prepared
without items such as X-acto blades,
a good set of brushes, and of course,
A final element is space. Miniatures
require at least a 4' x 4' area— many
rules will require more room unless you
alter the distances used. You need to
have plenty of room to maneuver, for
a good game. Usually a good size table
or tile floor will do.
These last few points are not meant to
scare anyone away from miniatures,
only to inform them of the large invest-
ment in time and money required.
Indeed, acquiring and painting your mo-
dels is often more fun than playing with
Miniatures can be an interesting asset
to any SF gamer's array of boardgames.
Playing times tend to be shorter than
most boardgames and miniatures battles
are much more colorful than those
pushing cardboard counter around on a
hexgrid. It is hoped that this brief survey
has served to help those gamers interested
in this facet of the hobby.
As a tactical game, BLACK HOLE
covers its subject very well, but I have
some nagging doubts about those ruins
scattered about the sunside of Dunkin's
asteroid. I propose the following addi-
tions to the game:
1) The first addition is simply a new
unit, infantry in armored space suits.
Infantry are a laser class combat unit,
although their weapons are low power,
and therefore of limited range. Their
primary mission is that of classic foot
sloggers, to go in and hold the territory.
The infantry counter's factors are 1-3-1.
All are identical. OLYMPICA'S counters
serve very well since they are also blue
and white, simply ignore their printed
values. Infantry double their defensive
value in any type of terrain other than
clear (ruins, mountains and craters).
They may never use jump movement.
Their combat range is always one hex.
Infantry may be carried by other units,
and must land on Dunkin's asteroid in
their carriers. The primary infantry
carrier is the PSV, which may carry two
units. The secondary carrier is the HEV,
which may carry one unit. Infantry enter
or leave their carriers at the beginning of
the movement phase, and the carrier may
move the turn they enter or leave it.
Infantry occupying ruins count as HEVs
for victory point purposes. To represent
their higher value, they cost two, rather
than one point.
2) The black hole distorts the gravita-
tional field within the center of the torus,
therefore, lasers, whose beam would be
bent and absorbed, should be more
limited than they are. To represent their
inability to fire straight across the inter-
ior, assume the black hole creates a dark
space blocking the opposite side of the
donut's interior. To determine the dark
space, count fifteen hexes along the same
hex row as the laser combat unit. The
dark space is from the thirteenth to the
seventeenth hex along that row. In other
words, the dark space for a laser combat
unit inside the torus is a five hex band
halfway around the inside. Laser fire
into that band is blocked for that unit.
Note that every laser unit on the inside
has its own separate dark space.
3) The last suggestions directly relate
to the game's objective, the ruins. When-
ever a player first occupies any ruin, he
must roll for random events to see if he
has awakened any alien devices. The roll
is two six-sided die, whose result is com-
pared to the random events table.
Getting More From
Glenn L. Williams
RANDOM EVENTS TABLE
Black hole opens
Normal victory points
Normal victory points
Normal victory points
Black hole opens
Explanation of random events:
Black hole opens. The black hole in
the center of the asteroid is actually a
gate for inter-stellar alien ships (as in
Adrian Berry's THE IRON SUN). Alien
ships are assumed to be in jump for the
duration of the game and are equipped
with both lasers and a TMU missile
launch capacity. Their attack is deter-
mined randomly against any units on the
interior surface of the asteroid or in
jump. Laser capacity is 6, and their
defense strength is two. One alien ship
will appear in each subsequent landing
phase of the player who triggered this
Friendly missile. The ruin contains a
DMU launcher (defense strength two)
which the triggering player has at his
disposal throughout the remainder of the
game. It is a fixed installation. Alien
missiles never detonate when they strike
mountains, they simply pass through
them. They will however, detonate when
passing through any friendly unit other
than one occupying their own ruin.
Friendly laser. As with a friendly
missile, except the fixed installation is
a four point laser, defense strength two.
Alien lasers do not have the dark space
Neutral laser. A four attack point,
two defense strength laser, which will
attack the nearest human unit in every
laser combat phase.
Normal victory points. No odd or
unusual results. Only on a roll of 5, 6 or
7 does a player receive victory points
for occupying the ruin in question.
Neutral missile. Like a neutral laser in
that it attacks any human unit, although
always the nearest. It is a DMU with a
defense strength of two. Its missiles do
not detonate when passing through
Hostile laser. Like a friendly laser,
except that it becomes a unit for the
Hostile missile. A fixed installation
DMU, defense strength two, available
to the player's opponent.
Note that for each player there are
three possible random events rolls, one
for each ruin. It is possible to have one
ruin fighting for and another against
him. Enemy units destroyed by alien
units working for the player do count
for victory points for either player. It
is permissible to attack an alien instal-
lation, destroy the active combat unit,
occupy the ruin, roll and have a favor-
I hope that these suggestions add to
your enjoyment of a fine, though weird,
game. The random events table is merely
one interpretation of the nature of the
ruins. I viewed them somewhat like a
spider's web. An enterprising player
could easily dream of extraordinary
adventures to be found in trying to take
the asteroid and its artifacts.
Katherine Kurtz has written a series of
stories about a world resembling England
in the Middle Ages. There is high chival-
ry, the power of the Church, and the
politics of feudalism. There is also the
Deryni. These are a mutant off-shoot of
humanity, possessing psychic talents.
Few in number, they are viewed by the
general populace as evil practioners of
black magic and withchcraft. Much of
the plot in Ms. Kurtz' stories deals with
the friction between humanity and the
Deryni are human in appearance,
tending toward slimness of build. The
psychic talents are genetically dominant,
so that the rare marriages of humankind
and Deryni produce Deryni offspring.
Deryni fit admirably into a fantasy game
conducted under MELEE/WIZARD rules.
Deryni characters should start with
ST 6, DX 10, IO 8, plus 8 extra points,
as Elves, but without the extra MA of
Elves. Unlike regular wizard-types,
Deryni are not hampered by the need to
learn a discipline foreign to mortal beings.
Training brings out their powers more
fully, but it is development of a natural
talent rather than an attempt to alter
natural laws by concentration of thought,
as human magic. Any Deryni met in a
game can be presumed to have had any
training necessary as a child, again in
contrast to human Wizards who certainly
could not begin to learn the study of sor-
cery until well into their teens. It is the
difference between learning to walk and
learning to fly a plane.
Thus, a Deryni can function as a
warrior, without the -4DX penalty for
use of a weapon that is incurred by
wizards. In physical combat, Deryni
warriors are subject to the same DX
modification for their armor and ST
limitations on their weapons as any
other MELEE warrior. The psychic
powers manifest themselves in a MELEE/
WIZARD game as magic spells, Such
"spells" are rolled against DX unadjusted
for armor, and they are available regard-
less of IQ. All Deryni can cast the fol-
lowing spells, the same way as other spells
are cast in WIZARD, without loss of ST:
Fire in 1 hex
Image of 1 hex
The following spells are also available,
regardless of IQ, but do use ST points:
Images greater than 1 hex can be cast
with 1/2 usual ST cost. Restoration of
ST - This only works on another figure,
supplying ST on a 1 for 1 basis. Unlike
an Aid Spell, the restoration is perma-
nent, but cannot be used to bring a
figure above the ST it started with.
Four Deryni, acting in concert, can
erect a one-megahex Circle of Protection
(Treat as Missile-Type Spell for distance,
only one of the four must make the DX
roll). The Circle is impervious to move-
ment, missiles, weapons, or spells. It
costs no ST to erect or maintain but the
four can take no other action while
concentrating. The Circle is used as a
defense, or as a mini-arena where formal
duels between Deryni are fought.
Obviously, matching ordinary warriors
against Deryni warriors in fair fight is
unfeasible for the humans. Deryni can
be attached to an expedition of standard
warriors on a 5%, 10%, or 20% basis,
depending on what the opposition has
in store. The fantasy world you make up
might have true human wizards as a
rarity, with extra-normal powers usually
available only to those predisposed by
birth, such as Deryni, and perhaps Elves.
Deryni can be matched against each other
in duels, or against human Wizards.
Even a Deryni wizard is possible, having
the attributes of a Deryni plus the spells
per IQ of a wizard, if set against foes of
awesome power (Gargoyle Wizards, a con-
tingent of Motie Warriors, technological
foes). In contrast, there could be Deryni
without warrior training, who must
rely solely on their powers and perhaps
a knife, against armed, armored or
MON CON III: (March 30 to April 1)
Conference Center, West Virginia Univer-
sity, Morgantown, WV. A combination
SF and wargaming con, which will feature
guests Joe Haldeman and Marc Miller.
Info: Mon Con III, Conference Center,
WV University, Morgantown, WV 26506.
CANGAMES 79: (May 20-22) Univer-
sity of Ottawa. GoH: Gary Gygax.
Info: Cangames '79, 201-360 Dundas St.,
Vanier, Ontario, Canada, K 1 L 7W7.
GLASCON IV: Greater Los Angeles
Simulations Convention (June 15, 16, 17)
$3 pre-reg; $5 at the door at CSU, North-
ridge. For further information write:
CSUN-SGA 7133 Reseda Blvd., Reseda,
CA 91335. Dealers invited.
THINGS THAT CAME IN THE MAIL:
SIGNAL no. 141: Signal is the newszine
of the gaming field. No. 141 is the
holiday edition and has an excellent cover
by Phil Foglio. Regular features include
a con list, new products, magazine
reviews, and an assortment of various
gaming news. Subs: 5/S1, Signal, 46
Carleton St., Oromocto, N.B., Canada,
E2V 2C8. Sent cash or make checks
payable to John Mansfield.
Moravian Dynasty: M.D.'s 2nd anniver-
sary issue contained a detailed review of
Unentschieden, an article on Stellar
Conquest, plus other articles and reviews
including an essay on grilled cheese
sandwiches. MD features include a
balance of Diplomacy, SF and fantasy
games along with the usual wargames.
Subs: 12/S3.50 or 3/S1 on a trial basis.
Make checks payable to Robert Goldman,
200 Old Army Rd., Scarsdale, NY 10583.
OUTPOSTS: Issue no.12 has articles on
Desert Fox, Panzerblitz, Tobruk, Battle
for France, and an index to the General
volumes 7-6 to 15-2. Outposts also
includes a wide variety of features: game
reviews, contests, gaming news, and even
a gaming crossword puzzle. Subs: 4/$6,
1/$1.75, make checks payable to Conflict
Simulation Society, 2 Desmond Run,
Sickleville, NJ 08081.
APPLE LANE and CREATURES OF
CHAOS 1 have been released by Chao-
sium. Both are additions to RUNE-
QUEST, another Chaosium game. Prices
are $4 for Apple Lane, and S2 for Crea-
tures of Chaos 1. They are available from
The Chaosium, P.O. Box 6302, Albany,
THE DRAGONLORDS is a new release
from Fantasy Games Unlimited. It is a
two player boardgame. Components
include a 21 page rules book, 23"x28"
map, 266 die-cut counters, and eight
supplementary sheets. THE DRAGON-
LORDS comes in a zip-lock bag . It is
available from Fantasy Games Unlimited,
P.O. Box 182, Roslyn, NY 11576.
WARGAMER's INFORMATION: Wl
is a newszine published by Flying Buf-
falo. Much of the news concerns Flying
Buffalo Products, but Wl has announce-
ments of club meetings, new products
and con reports. Subs: 12/$2.50,
Flying Buffalo Inc., PO Box 1467,
Scottsdale, AZ 85252.
Nfiwsfi Plug s
Hex-O-Gram is a catalogue published by
Lou Zocchi of GameScience. If you
don't have access to a well stocked
hobby store, Hex-O-Gram provides an
excellent service. For a free copy write
Lou Zocchi, 7604 Newton Drive, Biloxi,
NEBULA AWARD NOMINATIONS: The
1978 Nebula Awards nominations were
released on January 24, 1979. They
include the following novels:
DREAMSNAKE- Vonda Mclntyre
STRANGERS- Gardner Dozois
THE FADED SUN: KESRITH-
KALKI- Gore Vidal
BLIND VOICES- Tom Reamy
DUNE FANS REJOICE! -Frank Her-
bert's DUNE has been sold to Dino
deLaurentis for a record $1,000,000.
Herbert will also do the screenplay for
the movie. He will get extra money for
the script, and more money in the form
of a percentage of the film's gross profit.
Herbert was in the process of writing
DUNE IV when the deal came through.
He will start work on the movie imme-
diately, shelving the new book for awhile.
AGGIECON X: (March 29- April 1)
Texas A&M campus, College Station,
TX. GoH: Theodore Sturgeon, Guest
Artist: Boris. Mem: S5 till March 16,
S6 after. The best SF con in Texas,
fine facilities, good con staff, and lots
of quality films. Info: AggieCon X,
Memorial Student Center, Box 5718,
College Station, TX 77844.
LUNACON 79: (March 29- April 1)
Sheraton Inn at LaGuardia, New York
City. GoH: Ron Goulart. Mem: S7.50
to March 15, $9.50 after. Info: Luna-
Con '79, c/o Walter Cole, 1171 East 8th
St., Brooklyn, NY 11230.
URCON I: (March 31, 11am-1am)
GoH: Roger Zelazny. The University
of Rochester Science Fiction Society
is sponsoring this one day con. Listed
events include gaming, masquerade, and
art show. Membership is S4 until March
15, and S5 at the door. For more info:
URCON I, Box 5036 River Station,
Rochester, NY 14627.
AMBERCON: (April 6-8) Wichita
Royale, Wichita, KS. GoHs: Roger
Zelazny, Richard Delap, Wilson Tucker.
Mem: S5. Info: Gordon Garb, 505 N.
Rock Rd. no. 909, Wichita KS 67206.
BALTICON 13: (April 13-15) Hunt
Valley Inn, Baltimore, MD. Mem: $5
in advance, S7 at the door. Info: Balti-
more SF Society, PO Box 686, Baltimore,
PENULTICON: (May 25-28) Cosmopo-
litan Hotel, Denver, CO. GoHs: C.J.
Cherryh, Samuel Delany, Ed Bryant.
Mem: $10. Info: Penulticon, Box
11545, Denver, CO 80211.
JUST IMAGICON: (May 25-27) Holiday
Inn Rivermont, Memphis, Tennessee.
GoHs: L. Sprague de Camp, Kelly Freas.
Mem: $10 till April 1, $15 after. Info:
Louis Armor, 4475 Martha Cole, Mem-
phis, Tenn. 38118.
BYOB-CON 9: (May 25-27) Heritage
Inn, Kansas City, MO. GoHs: Karl
Edward Wagner, Andrew Offutt. Mem:
S8 till May 1, $10 after. Info: Byob-
Con 9, c/o 3720 Jefferson, Kansas City,
MIDWESTCON 79: (June 22-24) Info:
Lou Tabakow, 3953 St. Johns Terrace,
Cincinnati, OH 45236.
WESTERCON 32: (July 4-8) Sheraton
Palace, San Francisco, CA. Mem: $7.50,
GoHs: Richard Lupoff, Bruce Pelz,
Marta Randall. Info; Westercon 32,
4682 18th St., San Francisco, CA 941 14.
CONEBULUS III: (July 20-22) Thruway
Hilton Inn, Syracuse, NY. Mem: $6 till
7/1 $10 after. Info: Carol Gobeyn,
619 Stolp Ave., Syracuse, NY 13207.
DEEPSOUTHCON: (July 20-22) La
Pavilion Hotel, New Orleans. GoH:
R.A. Lafferty. Mem: $7.50, $10 at the
door. Info: Sons of the Sand, Ltd.,
1903 Dante St., New Orleans, LA 701 18.
MOSCON I: (September 29- October 1)
University Best Western Inn, Moscow,
Idaho. GoH: Verna Smith ("Doc"
Smith's Daughter) Distinguished Guest:
Robert Heinlein-health permitting. Mem-
bership is $6 until September 1, S8 after
then. More info: Moscon I, P.O. Box
9141, Moscow, Idaho 83843.
NOREASCON TWO: 38th World Science
Fiction, "WorldCon" (August 29-Sep-
tember 1, 1980) Sheraton-Boston Hotel.
GoHs: Damon Knight & Kate Wilhelm.
This is the BIGGY. Memberships are
$8 supporting, $15 attending in the
first half of 1979. Info requests from
NOREASCON II, P.O. Box 46, MIT
Branch P.O., Cambridge, MA 02139.
History buffs will always remember
fondly one lunatic who used to live in
San Francisco. This man believed he was
the Emperor and true ruler of that city.
He lived in a great old mansion over-
looking the Bay and called himself
Emperor Norton. He is commemorated
by the tourist boats there which are
named after him.
LORDS OF THE MIDDLE SEA is a
lot like Emperor Norton-- it doesn't seem
to quite know what it really is. It seems
to think it is a most magnificent thing- a
strategic wargame with tactical richness
and role-playing! Honest!
This game has wonderful parents.
Where did they go wrong? The father is
Lynn Willis, the wise old sage who
conjured up Metagaming's GODSFIRE
and OLYMPICA. The proud mother is
The CHAOSium, the "relatively new and
infant game company" (it says that right
in their literature) which gave birth to the
immortal WHITE BEAR AND RED
So meet LORDS OF THE MIDDLE
SEA, the game of North America reborn
in 2401 A.D. Some mild cataclysms have
struck our home continent: the Great
Plains have fallen into the ocean, volca-
noes have added some mountains, the sea
has risen thirty feet to wash away many
of our favorite metropolises, and the
world was demolished by a nuclear war.
The components are of fair quality.
The map is 22" x 34" and seems sturdy.
All 252 counters are provided, though
some people will find the soft pastel
colors hard to distinguish after a few
hours of play. The rulebook calls for two
sets of play-aids, but the CHAOSium has
combined them by printing on each
other's flipside. Since it is impossible
to read the Terrain Effects Table when
the Battalia side is covered with rein-
forcement counters, the company has
kindly provided a surplus Terrain Effects
Table to pass around. The advertisements
call the 12-page rulebook "large", which
must be because all of the printing is
done in little type.
As I mentioned earlier, this game has
delusions of grandeur. Official adver-
tisements proclaim it ". . .A STRATEGIC
GAME. . ." with ". . .TACTICAL RICH-
NESS. . .". I personally am at a loss to
find any tactical richness when moving
counters representing fleets (10-15 ships),
air support (5-7 dirigibles), and large
land forces (600-3000 men). Ignore the
rulebook's pictures of the dramatic duel
between a missile-firing wooden frigate
and two dirigibles, one of which is
going down in flames. This is a game of
masses, not of tactical units.
W. G. Armintrout
The Basic Game is, nevertheless,
good. Six pages of rules explain how to
fight and move and you're ready to play.
Three scenarios are given, allowing from
2-4 players. The four nations are TRANS-
WYOMING (present-day Washington,
Idaho and Montana), MEXICO (based in
the industrial capital of the world. . .
. .Utah), NAHUA (where Mexico used to
be before it migrated), and THE WAR-
DOMS (the islands of New England,
across the Nebraska Sea). Each nation
has its personal advantage. Transwyo-
ming has more of the cavalry-like hordes.
The Wardoms have more naval forces.
Nahua, because of its numerous cities,
raises more of the city infantry known
as gangs (farm boys are called levies).
Mexico has the technological advantage
and starts with the dirigibles.
Turns represent three months. Mili-
tary options include amphibious and
aerial assaults, interceptions by defending
forces of attacking units, and a com-
fortable stacking rule limiting unit
concentration according to the type of
terrain. Reinforcements can be raised
on any city, farm, and at remote points
in the jungle where the hordes roam.
Some nice optional rules allow enemies
to destroy the dikes of New England
(flooding the countryside), and introduce
antiquated artillery which is so unreliable
that its combat factors are determined
by die roll before every combat.
The Basic Game is a good, above
average wargame. It is fun to play and
worth replaying. The "tactical richness"
is a lot of malarky (kind word) but it's
still a nice game.
On to the Advanced Game, which
takes up six more pages of rules! The
advertisement sums it well: ". . THE
ADVANCED GAME ADDS ECONO-
MICS, DIPLOMACY, CAMPAIGNS,
SUNKEN CITY MINING, QUESTS, LI-
BRARIES AND MORE."
Now, there are some good moments
here. A simple economics section allows
players to save and spend from treasuries
to get reinforcements instead of accepting
the automatic allotments of the Basic
Game. Diplomacy rules add a new
counter, the emissary, which travels to
neutral lands to recruit mercenaries and
rent wooden floating cities known as
arks. The supply rule gives a purpose
to the supply wagon counters, but it
needs some work. From here on the
Advanced Game is strictly downhill.
Ruler markers are allowed to go on
quests and accumulate "banner points".
A ruler with enough points becomes a
Hero-king and selects a secret power from
a table. Powers range from being able to
lead armies over impassable mountains
to a special ability to rearrange player
order twice per game. Quests give more
banner points than anything else but are
terribly dull, like circumnavigating a con-
tinent or touring the homeland. After
each Quest a ruler gets to roll a die to see
if he discovered a library, which can do
things like eliminate winter movement
restrictions or double transport fleet
capacity. A Hero-king who discovers
a library is known as a Sorceror-king.
None of this goes over too great with
me, but then something tastes sour in
my mouth when I find I'm supposed to
be sending my ruler off on quests to be-
come a Hero-king while I am also trying
to fight a stategic war. After all, in
Avalon Hill's THIRD REICH nobody
makes Hitler get on a boat and sail
around Europe. . .
The sunken city mining is only a
minor loathsome point, where players
anchor arks over sunken cities and roll
die to see if they've discovered any trea-
What can be said about LORDS OF
THE MIDDLE SEA? This is a game
which tries too hard. It has no tactical
richness, despite the pretty pictures in
the rulebook. The role-playing is trivial
and gets in the way. Like Emperor
Norton, this game thinks it is a little bit
of everything. . .and ends up being a little
But don't throw this game away!
Just ignore the unfortunate parts of it
and play the decent parts of it. After
all, even Emperor Norton was enter-
taining in his way- and so is LORDS OF
THE MIDDLE SEA.
LORDS OF THE MIDDLE SEA is
available from The CHAOSium, P.O.
Box 6302, Albany CA 94706 for S9.95.
MIND WAR is a game of mental
battle between para-psionic warriors in
a hypothetical future Earth. In MIND
WAR, damaging waves of solar radiation
have resulted in a high incidence of signi-
ficant genetic changes. This includes
the introduction of varying degrees of
para-psionic ability in roughly ten percent
of the population. In the game, charac-
ters with para-psionic abilities battle in
a universe where time and space, as we
think of them, are meaningless. Each
combatant envisions an identical field of
adjoining circles represented by the map
as a common reference for mind to mind
interactions between themselves (from
the rules}. Battles, according to the three
page rationale, are rarely lethal. Instead,
they are aimed at merely forcing the
opponent from the mental grid. It is
the purpose of this article to describe
this game as objectively as possible, to
point out some of its strengths and
weaknesses, and to suggest some modifi-
cations which, in my opinion, make this
otherwise mediocre game challenging and
Game components include an aesthe-
tically appealing 10"x17" two-color,
heavy paper map (mental grid), charts,
tables, forty die-cut counters, an illustra-
ted, twelve-page booklet of rationale,
basic & optional rules, and scenarios.
In most of the included scenarios, each
player controls one para-psionic comba-
tant of para-psi class one, two, or three.
These c\asses are defined b\ their de-
ferent ranges of para-psionic abilities,
and are expressed in terms of para-psionic
points available per turn (anywhere
between five and twenty-two). These
points are used interchangably to move
and create mental beams and shields.
Play continues (in all scenarios) until only
one player remains in the mental grid.
Each game turn is composed of four
phases. These are, in order, the plot
phase, the movement phase, the reserve
allocation phase, and the combat resolu-
tion phase. During the plot phase, both
players simultaneously plot the expendi-
tures of their para-psi points for that
turn. These points can be allocated to
the movement of the character between
circles and to the creation of mental
beams and shields of varying intensities.
Also, a limited number of points (0-2)
can be held in reserve, to be allocated
to plotted beams and shields after the
simultaneous movement phase. Combat,
which occurs when a beam is plotted
to hit a circle in which their is an oppo-
sing combatant, is resolved by cross
indexing net beam intensity (determined
by the intensity of the beam targeted for
that circle minus the intensity of the
shield guarding that direction), with a
die roll on the CRT. The numerical
result is the number of class levels lost by
the defender. For example, a level three
psionic who is forced to reduce his class
by two levels would change from a para-
psi point allowance per turn of between
seventeen and twenty -two (class three
range) to somewhere within the level one
range of five to ten points per turn.
This combat system leads to massive
changes \n re\at'we strength trom turn
to turn. In fact, I've found the first
player to score a hit on his opponent
(no easy task) usually wins the game.
The opponent will have lost so many
para-psi points due to his class change
that he can no longer compete effec-
tively. Unfortunately, scoring a hit is
not as dependent on strategy and tactics,
as it is on the luck-of-the-die and simply
out-guessing one's opponent, as players
leap-frog back and forth, firing more or
less randomly. The result of all this is a
game that is often frustrating, and that
awards wins and losses by criteria basi-
cally unrelated to relative gaming skill.
To remedy these problems, I would
suggest the following minor modifica-
tions: First, the results on the CRT be
in terms of lost para-psi points per turn
instead of para-psi levels. Although this
would increase playing time, it would
make shifts in relative power less massive,
thus giving a player who sustains an early
loss a chance to win. Second, scenarios
should give each player several characters
instead of one. This would allow players
to carry out strategies such as encircle-
ment, isolation of opponents and the
creation of fields of fire. I do not mean
to imply MIND WAR, in its market
form, has no positive aspects. It does.
MIND WAR is simple to learn, fast mo-
ving, and can generally be played in less
than an hour, much like Metagaming's
MicroGames. But, in my opinion, and in
the opinions of those with whom I've
played the game, unless modifications
(such as those that I've suggested) are
introduced, the game's weaknesses out-
weigh it's strengths.
NUND \NkR as part of the Green Pla-
net Trilogy of Games, and can be joined
with them. It is available from Fact and
Fantasy Games, P.O. Box 1472, Maryland
Heights, MO 64043, for S3.50.
Outside of the few nice touches that
any new game will have, my impression
is that this game is a deliberate spoof
on DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. A few
changes, easily seen through, and one is
right back to D&D. Oh, sure, it uses
8-sided dice to generate characters in-
stead of 6-sided ones. And Rupniks,
Chromniks, and Galiks for gold, silver,
and copper (although it says in paren-
theses that those are the equivalents).
Then there are the three basic classes
of adventurers - called Soldier, Fly-
Catcher, and Scientist - get 8-sided,
6-sided, and 4-sided hit dice respectively.
The negative armor class system is used,
with the lower numbers being better.
The character gains experience points
by killing monsters and bringing home
treasure. All for the purpose of changing
Player characteristics are the basic
six used by D&D, with intelligence
called Wit and charisma called Personal-
ity. There are additions to hit probability
with increasing strength. They are given
in percentages instead of in terms of
20-sided dice, although the chances are
always increased in five percent incre-
ments. Damage adds, encumberances,
and door opening chances are listed in
neat rows with a percent roll for excep-
tional ability when the maximum
strength is rolled. Like D&D, even to the
numbers in parentheses for opening of
"phase-locked" doors. Constitution
influences add to hit dice as personality
influences hireling's morale.
Each class has an elite group. Soldiers
can be Cyborgs, like Steve Austin. Scien-
tists have their Robot-makers, whose
robots have specs somewhat like the
various Golems of D&D. Fly-Catchers
have Psychics, with psychic powers
very much like spells.
The setting gives a background against
which actions take place, something
which D&D doesn't do, though other
role-playing games do. A cloud of space
gas descended on Earth killing 95 percent
of all humans. Animals that survived are
changed into "fierce and mutated beings
that traveled in destructive packs". A
newscaster becomes immortal through
the use of drugs and becomes the Yolmi,
after whom the game is named.
The Yolmi leads a religious group of
other undead things. Flies make up one
large group of the surviving animals
and were so much of a threat that hu-
mans have the Fly-Catchers to deal with
them. Other "monsters" are the auto-
mations, which of course were not
affected by the gas cloud, and are now
out of control; regular mutated animals
of all shapes and sizes; and other men
not under player control. Agents (men
who wear overcoats and low hats, forever
followed by fog, who speak in hushed
tones and endeavor to sell secrets), ban-
dits, panhandlers, Mafioso, gamblers, and
politicians are some of the men one could
meet. These are only the land monsters.
There are also those for sea and air adven-
Supplies are those things that one
would find laying around after the death
of mankind, plus those simple things
that would re-evolve. Firearms still
exist- rifles, pistols, and Saturday Night
Specials. Other weapons include: slings,
chains, nun-chuks, and boom-a-rangs
(called snapir). There are ropes, 15 foot
poles, helmets, piano wire, sacks, torches,
and 10' x 10' flypaper. For armor,
there are: padded suits, bulletproof
vests, and mecho-suits.
Then there are the exotic devices
found in the treasure hoards of the mon-
sters. Submachineguns, hand grenades,
flame throwers, micro-lasers, and phasers
for the offense. Padded suits minus
three, which is three armor classes better
than regular padded suits; mecho-suits
minus five; force shields; and implosion
cubes are there to be used on defense.
Miscellaneous technological devices like:
visicons, phase bags, anti-grav boots,
detectors for about everything, and jet
skis are found in some treasures. Drugs,
plastic explosive, and even T.L.C. (time
line convertors) are other possible finds.
Again, these are only the treasures that
one gets when fighting the land monsters.
There are additional charts, all nice and
neat, for sea and air treasures.
A referee is needed to lay out the
different adventures a party may go on.
He uses hex paper for outdoors and graph
paper for underground. There are the
creature encounter tables, rows and
rows of things to meet, determined by
a die roll, in this section. In other
words, all the things that a D&D ref
is responsible for.
AND, for those who become rich and
powerful, one can go to his friendly
neighborhood trading post. For a paltry
two million Rupniks, the trader will
set up a radar unit and teleporter and
send you up to one of the orbiting
spaceships. Abandoned by the crew
when the gas cloud struck, the ships lie
dormant. You can transport a party of
only twenty and those better include
many 15 level and above characters,
because you have to activate the systems
of the ship before you can go anywhere.
At least one 15 level Psychic is needed,
for he drives or jumps the ship from one
spot to another outside the solar system,
one light year per jump, twice per day.
He must take drugs to stay fit.
In all there are 16 pages of ship
particulars. Weapons, shields, combat,
outer space monsters, and alien ships
are covered. In my view, this is the best
section of the 114 page book. By itself
though, it may not be worth the $8.
THE REALM OF YOLMI is available
from: West Coast Games, 1987 Santa
Maria Way, Sacramento, CA 95825.
I don't mind a good spoof, but I would
like to know ahead of time that I am
buying one. With this review, you out
there will have a chance to make that
Kick, Step, Pivot,
Step, Walk, Walk,
There are nights— especially at college--
when you've ravaged every box of cook-
ies in sight, played hell with your body
chemistry, and brought your brain down
to five percent of operation's capacity.
Nights like that, MicroGames seem too
intellectually exhuasting to play. Chao-
sium has just produced the game to play
on nights when counting the dots on a
die gives you a headache.
STOMP simulates the battle between
a vapid giant named Thunderpumper
and eighteen melon-munching elves who
have invaded the garden of Thunder-
pumper's employer. Thunderpumper
stumbles about stomping elves and
bashing at them with his club, while
the elves, in classic Lilliputian style,
try to pin his sandals with spears and
bring him to ground with lassoes. If the
elves bring him down before 15 of them
are pulped, he crashes into the garden
wall, creating a gap for escape. . .the
little guys win. The map is 14X16
hexes, with varied terrain. The giant
player has two double-sized counters
to represent Thunderpumper's feet, and a
club counter. The elf player has elves of
varying movement ability and two
The game is quite simple. If part of
Thunderpumper's foot ends its movement
on an elf, it's mashed. The club is swung
in a straight line through several hexes,
knocking a target elf an equal number
of hexes. If it hits a tree or the wall,
no more elf; otherwise it's stunned.
Thunderpumper's feet move indepen-
dently, but in certain configurations
(like walking pigeontoed), he trips and
goes down. Thunderpumper cannot
swing his club through his own body.
After a few minutes, it becomes easy to
visualize the giant towering over the
map and you can understand the intent
of the giant configuration rules.
Elves are fast enough to stay out of
the way, but it's a small garden, there's
no time limit, and they can't hide forever.
So eventually, they must fight. Elves
charge out of the woods or other hiding
places to attack Thunderpumper's san-
dals. This is accomplished by a mystical
diceless combat results system. "Oppo-
nents face one another. Each player
holds out his left palm and twice pounds
his right fist into his palm. On the
third pound, players put into their palms
X number of fingers. Matched fingers
indicate that the elf succeeds. . ." The
more elves attack a sandal, the more
chance the sandal will be stuck. The
giant can pivot on a stuck heel or toe
portion, and can free one portion of
foot per turn, but a concerted elf attack
can quickly immobilize Thunderpumper.
A little rope action and he's down (assu-
ming good die rolls--uh, finger matches).
But while all the elves are out in the
open playing with his feet, Thunderpum-
per is bashing away with his club. It's a
short game, 40 minutes at most.
I rather like this game. It's imagina-
tive; it's fast and fun and balanced. The
rules are a bit sketchy for a recruit
customer to get everything right without
being confused, but gamers with any
experience at all will have no problem.
The components make OGRE look like
WAR IN EUROPE--twenty-four one-color
regular-size thinboard counters, eight
double-size foot counters (showing vari-
ous permutations of free and stuck foot-
portions), and one 8'/2"X13" one-sided,
four-color sheet with front and back
covers, mapsheet, and maybe 3000
words of rules, all in a small ziplock
bag, all for the sum of S2.95. It's
not a great leap forward in game design,
but designer Tadashi Ehara and rules
writer/illustrator Lynn "Olympica" Willis
have produced a diversion that should be
good for breaking in your non-gamer
buddies and roomies-especially if you
catch them on the right night. Published
by Chaosium, Box 6302, Albany, CA
"Ah. . . Juggernaut, I still have a red
light on the transfer panel."
"Juggernaut, its on the prime circuit
"Goddammit, Wayne. Make the switch
-over! Wayne?. . . Are you listening
Wayne?. . . Wayne? Wayne, we've been
over it, and over it, and over it. You have
to make the switch-over. Juggernaut is
ready, Wayne, you have to let him free."
"It's not a him, George, it's a . . ."
"It's a cybernetic system, Wayne; it's
not just a goddam machine."
"Wayne?. . . Wayne? Let's put it this
way, Wayne, if you don't make the
switch-over, you're. . . Well, hell, you'll
never work for this government again!"
"Juggernaut One, Juggernaut One, this
is Mission Control Central. We have a
green board. Repeat, all boards showing
green. Juggernaut One is operational."
"I know, Wayne."
The tremendous bulk of Juggernaut
One slid forward like an apartment
building breaking loose. Deep in her
bowels, below the feet of armor plate,
below the weapons systems, past ammu-
nition storage bins, the fuel tanks, and
maintenance servos; deeper yet past the
electronics, and the meager (and not
altogether necessary) crew compartment,
Juggernaut's fusion reactor blasted horse-
power away from tortured atoms. Hum-
ble water sizzled into steam and roared
over polished turbines. Massive convert-
ers screamed as if in pain, torqued axle
shafts, and geared forward the tracks.
All was placid on the surface. White
paint glinted under the garage lights.
A radar array slowly orbited the central
A seemingly insignificant creature
stood next to it, waving the vehicle
forward with fluorescent rods. The
system towered ten times the creature's
height, and cubed itself off in length
Juggernaut One left behind a cosmo-
line stain on the tarmac, and in a spray
of thin oil, whirred forward.
Juggernaut One, the single most
destructive unit ever created, was free
and unfettered by puny human control.
Instincts of loyalty and gratitude, honor
and courage, stayed its offensiveness;
balanced its aggression. Since birth
seconds ago, it loved its masters; its
creators. Since birth, it hated its enemies
-- it rolled forward!
Controlled power! Juggernaut was
raw, awesome - a machine designed for
destruction. Its missiles could devastate
cities; its guns could chew through any
vehicle. Its defenses could buzz bullets
like a nest of angry hornets, or choke
attackers with a deadly fog. Together
in one unit - a system, it was the key
to a world's conquest, and a destroyer
Juggernaut One rolled forward aggres-
sively. The garage doors creaked and
rattled as the technicians pushed them
open. Juggernaut, eager, willing, like a
child unaware of its muscles, barged
ahead. The edge of the bay door caught
in Juggernaut's side skirting. The white
surface barely scratched, but the garage
door buckled and tore. It was ripped,
thrown and clattered to junk.
"God help us," whispered Wayne.
Mrs. Magillicuty noticed the beetle
as it scurried out from under the side-
board. She stepped forward and placed
the flat of her penny loafer on top of it.
It crunched satisfyingly as she stepped
Mrs. Magillicuty went to the cupboard
under the sink. She picked up a small
wisk broom and swept the remains under
"Nasty little white bugger," she mut-
by Warren E. McGill
The other day I wandered by
A place where Ogres go to die,
A store not open there before,
But one that seemed to thrive on war.
I had meant to hurry by
But something there had caught my eye,
An ugly monster now I saw
Looked fust like my mother-in-law.
So through the door my footsteps led.
With a heart chocked full oficey dread:
But curious why they advertised
A beast who should be atomized.
A voice boomed out "Just look around
But please try not to make a sound,
I've run his Wizard out of spells
And want to hear his anguished yells".
What kind of business could this be
When all there was that I could see
Were envelopes on every wall.
And games stacked high as I am tall?
And in a comer crouched six fools.
Four of whom could pass as ghouls;
While the one they must have robbed,
with bowed head just sat and sobbed.
"Let's take a break" the sixth one said,
"While I try to make some bread";
Then turning to me with a lear.
Said "I think we have a live one here ".
Too late to dash across the floor,
They 'd formed a blockade at the door;
So in a voice that was almost a babble,
I asked them for a game of Scrabble.
"Come on now friend" the owner sneered,
(Adding to my other fears);
"That game is not for you and I,
I've something better for you to buy ".
"You look to me like World War II,
And Panzerblitz should be for you;
But should you be a SciFi fan
I've games enough to fill your van ".
Game by game, he showed them all.
From ancient Rome to Tolbruk's fall;
Then from Mid-World to outer space,
And those who fight with sword and mace.
Un til with senses overcome,
I had spent a goodly sum;
Buying all he said to try.
From Metagaming to SPI.
And now at last, I'm homeward bound
Having left them with a frown.
They said "Let's play" and I said "Naw",
"I'm going home to play with my mother-in-law'
■fitters to the Editor
The ICE WAR article in TSG 20
contained a typo. Rule 21.3 states:
US initial forces subs may be committed
to the map during the US Sub phase of
any turn after release of reinforcements.
This should read: US initial forces subs
may be committed to the map during the
Sub phase of any turn. US reinforcement
subs may be committed during the Sub
phase of any turn after the release of
reinforcements (see 17.3).
Also, the rules for OLYMPICA (which
I edited) contain an error, due to minor
differences between the designer's map-
board and the production version. Rules
4.2, 4.3, 5.2, and 13.2 list the hexes for
the fixed-placement tunnels as 1717,
1818, 1010, and 1009. These should
be 1717, 1818, ^0^0,and 1011.
I discovered the standard snipe at
SWORDS AND SORCERY in an article
about a game based on an extremely
mature and well thought out science
fiction television show (STAR TREK);
the program may not qualify as childish,
but as serious science fiction it does leave
something to be desired. It's not that
I'm paranoid, it's just that I am aware of
THE SPACE GAMER'S policy to get me
and the company I work for.
In a more serious vein, the contention
that STARSHIPS AND SPACEMEN
allows for sexual equality by compensa-
ting female characters with increased
"Charisma" and "Psionic Power" in
return for lesser "Strength" is ludi-
crous. In the first place, why do women
have greater Charisma? Just because the
current society in which we live places
much more value on female physical
beauty than on male physical beauty
does not mean that females are intrinsi-
cally more charismatic than males. And
the differentiation of male and female
characters on the basis of any unproven
physical or mental difference points
out a sad lacking in design perspective
rampant in this hobby. Any student
of role-playing games can prove women
are more beautiful (or handsome) than
men, but less strong. Who is stereotyping
whom? I suppose I will have to endure
several articles detailing the ability of
women to "seduce" men before this
silliness is exorcised from the hobby,
but at least the designers could be sexist
along conventional and currently accept-
able lines (witches versus wizards).
And besides, the lead characters in
STAR TREK who were most charismatic
Your "Inside Humor" column was
probably funny, but since I am not
allowed to laugh by company policy at
any article which might be construed as
pointed at the firm, I am not sure. It
might interest you to know that the
copy you have of CREATURE in your
files has very little resemblance to the
product which will be available shortly.
To my mind, it is certainly the best
game of the four, and doesn't even look
like a giant tank.
Chacun a son gout.
SPI, New York
Dialogues between artist and critic
tend to be unutterably boring and I do
not intend to initiate a multi-chapter
discussion via this letter. However, I
think it wise to make some reply to
Eric Goldberg's letter in TSG no.20,
in which he takes exception with my
review of his SWORDS AND SORCERY
design. Whatever specific defense he
wishes to make for S&S is his affair, of
course, and it would be futile to recapi-
tulate old points. I would, however, like
to make a couple of brief comments
before proceeding to the primary issue
raised by Eric's letter.
First, despite the fact that Eric says
that he doesn't "know one way or ano-
ther" whether the humorous approach
was proper in the context of S&S, he
cannot say that he did not have ample
opportunity before the game entered
print to "get sure". At least one play-
tester was not amused by the game and
said so. As a consequence, Eric said that
he and Greg Costikyan were going over
the game one more time with "an ex-
tremely critical eye, to make sure our
intentions cannot be misread" (see
S&T no.68/WORKS IN PROGRESS).
So what happened? I would also point
out that SPI specifically condemns
"high school humor and obvious smart-
guy remarks" in its guidelines on manu-
script style (see WARGAME DESIGN,
page 186, case 1.66-1 assume that what
applies to game notes also applies even
more so to the rules headings).
Regarding Eric's characterization of
my comment concerning SPI staffers as
"snide", I can only say that I did not
intend it to be read that way (though
I now realize that my assessment did
come off as a sarcastic cheap shot).
My apologies to the staff for that. I still
maintain that SPI does not do nearly
as good a job on SF-F topics as they do
on historical topics, but I'll leave any
speculation as to why that might be to
Eric's main point, though, is that I
analyze the game on the basis of what I
think it should have been and not on the
basis of what it is trying to be. By
Eric's standards, this is an incorrect
approach which "misses the entire point
of the game". Not only is it unfair to
judge a game by such a standard, but,
says Eric, the standard is probably not
capable of achievement. Hmmmm.
In answer to this thesis, let me first
say that I've never even heard of a critic
(of any variety) who would allow himself
to be bound by the stictures which Eric
sets down. The reviewer who says that
a play bores him because the author and
director have tried to be "terminally
cute" is committing the same crime
of which I am accused. The literary
critic who says that a new novel is a
"turgid bit of nonsense, leaping from
one poorly developed theme to the next"
is saying nothing very different from
what I said about S&S. Regardless of
what Eric thinks makes good criticism,
critics always have and always will look
at what a play or a novel or a simulation
might have been if the concept of the
work had been given a little more th-
ought. To say that the critic should limit
himself to a dissection of mechanics in
relation to goals is absurd. The question
of whether the goals set for a work are
proper or achievable is an essential
question in all criticism. In the case of
S&S, my central thesis was that the
sort of experience which I as a consumer
desired and expected when I ordered
the item was lacking in the event pre-
cisely because the conceptualization of
S&S was not sufficient for the amount
of time, money and print expended.
This approach is perfectly legitimate.
As for missing the entire point of the
game, I regret to say that I got the point
driven home quite forcefully. The
problem from my angle was not a failure
of understanding, but a fundamental
disagreement as to whether or not the
point of the game was worthy of being
made. . .at least in that manner and at
that price. I do not believe that the
Feedback on a game concept constitutes
or should constitute an inviolable straight
jacket. Nor do I believe that such
Feedback necessarily defines the para-
meters within which a game should exist.
Such definition is the responsibility of
the designer. He may want to stick as
closely as possible to what got a favorable
Feedback response initially, but from
what I have seen of the way SPI operates,
there is a not inconsiderable amount
of latitude involved in a designer's choice
of how to do his job. As for Eric's citing
the text of the Feedback question on
S&S as proof that the game achieved
its intent, I should like to point out
that he is simply begging the question of
whether or not he properly narrowed
down his subject matter and got a grasp
on his data. Simply because the initial
concept of a game sets certain parameters
does not mean that you have to design
out to the capacity of your subject.
Finally, Eric contends that my con-
cept of what constitutes a good fantasy
game is, if not unproducable, at least
unproduced. Simple rot! There are any
number of fantasy offerings on the mar-
ket which, whatever their other faults,
show the very integrity of concept and
grasp of material which I indicted S&S
for lacking. SPI's own WAR OF THE
RING is a nicely conceived and fully
developed item of the sort I expressed
a desire to see. DIXIE may never rank
as an all-time favorite game of anybody,
but it was an integrated effort. Meta-
gaming's TFT Micro's, are well thought-
out systems, capable of much reinterpre-
tation, but also capable of use as self-
enclosed, integrated games. But, perhaps
the best examples of what can be done
with the fantasy genre are WHITE BEAR
AND RED MOON and NOMAD GODS,
both of which embody high standards
both of literature and of gaming. The
question was and remains, is a small
outfit like CHAOSIUM can do it, why
David James Ritchie
Grove City, PA
I was pleased that my PS IONICS IN
TRAVELLER article appeared in TSG
no. 20; this feeling of pleasure came to
an abrupt end, though, when I noticed
some mistakes I had made in the article.
The mistakes, along with the proper
corrections, are as follows:
1. PSIONIC INSTITUTE ERROR-
Psionic Institute branches can only exist
on planets that have a population level
of 9+ or a technology level of 12+, not
18+ as I previously stated. At the time
I wrote it I thought you rolled two
six-sided dice to determine a planet's
technology level; in reality, you are
supposed to roll one.
2. MIND-CONTROL ERROR- In
the second column of page eleven under
the mind-control section close to the
bottom of the page exists the statement
"the ability of mind-control lasts as long
as the telepath is rendered unconscious
for twelve hours." Ignore this statement
entirely; pretend it was never written;
cross it out with ink or erase it. How it
got there I'm not certain, maybe it was
3. PSIONIC DEVICES ERROR- The
three categories that psionic devices fall
into are (a) those that allow a character
the use of a certain psionic ability but no
psionic strength points to make use of
the ability, (b) those that allow a charac-
ter a certain number of psionic strength
points but no psionic abilities to expend
the psionic strength points on, and (c)
those devices that allow a character the
usage of a certain psionic ability plus the
necessary psionic strength points to
perform the psionic ability with. In the
original article I left out the "b" type
Hopefully, this letter will straighten
out any confusion that may arise from
the PSIONICS IN TRAVELLER article.
Remember, for telekinetic purposes, one
kilogram equals two and two tenths
pounds, and one megagram equals two
thousand two hundred pounds.
Kenneth W. Burke
West Hartford, CT
I have enjoyed your magazine princi-
pally because of the enthusiasm, both for
science fiction and for gaming, that seems
to characterize most of the writers. With
rare exception those writing about games
that I know seem to comprehend the
purpose of those games and are able
to comment intelligently upon them
(a rare exception to this was "TRAVEL-
LER: Addendum Equipment & Wea-
pons" by Barger in No. 18. Mr. Barger
seems to underestimate the importance
of technical levels as the equipment that
he describes would be far past the capa-
bilities of planets in the designer created
universe although they well might fit in
another). As to the future of the maga-
zine: the simple fact is that I am paying
a high price (about 5 cents/page of text)
for the magazine and what I want is a
continuation of the articles about games
and reviews and discussions of the games
available. Fiction, especially bad fiction,
I can find at a cheaper price elsewhere;
articles as valuable as "Referee, Declare
Thyself!" (No. 18) or "Psionics in
TRAVELLER" (No. 20) are rare even
in gaming magazines. Most other maga-
zines I buy at a newsstand after a quick
run-through to see whether there is
something of value in it for me or not;
change the format of TSG radically or
start that miserable fiction again and I
am likely to demote it to that level.
The hardest part of the survey was rating
the game companies. Any company that
produces multiple games produces some
duds. How is one to combine the ratings
for effort, production values, and final
product into one, almost meaningless
score? There are probably some manu-
factures that will not get my money
unless I have played the game elsewhere
and liked it and some, a very few, that
will get my money based on past perfor-
mance. Most purchasing that I do will be
based not on the maker but on a close
look at the game and, if possible, some
good reviews (and by this I do not mean
favorable reviews, but reviews that take
a close look at the game and explain its
assumptions, problems, play mechanics,
and good points and attempt to evaluate
its interest to the average gamer).
As a minor quibble about the survey
I would like to object to SWORDS &
SORCERY being cast as a role playing
game. I have it; I play it; I like it; and it
is a board game pure and simple. I also
feel that GDW's ILIAD should have been
included as a fantasy board game. The
assumption of the game is that the gods
did have an effect on the events rather
than being a 'simluation' of the bronze
age commerce raiding that was the
Yale F. Edeiken
Mike Crane's "Hazards of Wargaming"
is an intriguing, very confused article.
Even given that Mike was attempting
to write a humorous piece, the illogic
of his statements is no less serious than in
a critical tract. He asks if "anyone ever
actually understands" big, complex games
or "even understands the rules?" Sure
they do. Some of the big games (e.g.
TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD, WAR IN
EUROPE, and-what I suspect is the
subject of his play session, SWORDS &
SORCERY) have been discussed at length
in the wargame press by intelligent,
incisive customers who readily digested
and mastered the games. Big games
are not for everyone; they require time,
energy, work, and the desire to learn
something from the game. Playing a
battalion/company level game of the
Battle of the Bulge is exhausting, but
you can't gain an understanding of how
the nature of the tactical combat deter-
mined the strategic outcome by playing
a Folio game on the Bulge. Mike com-
plains that his game has no "standard"
scenario. Why should a fantasy game
have a "standard" scenario? What's
wrong with having a multiplicity of
scenarios to choose from, assuming the
developer has had enough time to develop
all the scenarios properly (an admittedly
big assumption)? Mike and his buddies
seemed to have a lot of trouble coping
with the rules; they kept screwing up and
having to start over again. They spent
hours arguing over which scenario to
play, which optional rules to play, how
to interpret rules. One of the guys
cheated, which indicates an impressive
lack of integrity-why go through this
whole process if you're going to prosti-
tute the results? What have you learned?
Mike bitches that the rules use precise,
technical language. I assure Mike that
writing precise technical language, trying
to cover the loopholes (and never quite
succeeding) is a hell of a lot less fun
than reading it. But we do it for guys
like Mike and his buddies-who are
incapable of settling their disputes
through common sense and concilliation.
Can you imagine how Mike's nightmarish
session would have gone with sloppy,
loose rules of the famous, classic "Use
any reasonable supply rule" sort? Sure,
it takes time to get used to reading long,
complex rules; you're learning a new
language. Kids don't start out on CRIME
& PUNISHMENT; Mike obviously isn't
experienced enough with wargames to be
playing complex ones. I am not calling
Mike dumb; I am not saying rules-writing
is a perfectly developed art. Both need
To sum up, to judge that big games
are a waste of time because Mike and
his buddies had a bad experience-com-
pounded by their inexperience, inability
to make decisions, sloppy rules reading,
and cheating-would be foolish. What can
we all learn from this? That playing a big
game takes effort in order to have fun
and learn from it, and that not everyone
is capable of devoting this effort to
playing big games. As for me-l don't
have the time these days, which is why I
play Micros. And, like Mike, I drink.
I have brought Allen Varney's POND
WAR (TSG no. 19) to the attention of a
friend of mine. He assures me that he
will give Mr. Varney's idea careful consi-
deration. He has already sent two repre-
sentatives of his, er, company to talk to
Mr. Varney about POND WAR (to
express their interest in his idea, they are
bringing him a nice, white, er, jacket for
him to try on). They should arrive
shortly. In the meantime, keep him as
quiet as possible; don't let him become
excited (tie him up if you have to).
Menlo Park, Calif.
I'm dismayed at your announcement
of a possible venture into historical
games. There are so many companies
turning out so many good games that
your joining in doesn't hold much pro-
mise of impact or profit. Metagaming is
the only company that concentrates on
science fiction and fantasy boardgames.
Others dabble in the area, but only GDW
consistently produces solid games. Seri-
ous sci-fi gamers can only lament any
sidetracking of your efforts into histori-
cal games. Already STELLER CON-
OUEST and OGRE set the standard of
excellence in concept and rules, but not
yet in components, for science fiction
simulations. When and if I see a regular
game by Metagaming, I can only think of
the resources that could have been put
to better use in upgrading the graphics,
playtesting and other facets of your
bread and butter: sci-fi and fantasy
games. Besides, I doubt you can match
GDW, AH, or SPI for quite a while in
their own lairs, or find an interesting
historical topic they haven't covered.
I'm still surprised gamers haven't
realized why games, like IMPERIUM,
TRAVELLER, STELLAR CONQUEST,
and OGRE are so superior to STAR-
FORCE, STARSHIP TROOPERS, WAR
OF THE RING, and OUTREACH. The
first are labors of love polished into gems.
The designers have let the rest of the
playing public onto the same game they
have been playing for enjoyment for
years. The latter group consists of the
mass produced bash. They're either
another effort to beat the publication
deadline, to maximize the dollars; or they
take advantage of a big name novel,
which doesn't guarantee a good game.
The difference is between games with
sparkling personality, humor, and a
defined theme and those flavorless games
where players methodically push their
pieces around or at best STALINGRAD
with lasers and spaceships instead of rifles
and Panthers. Metagaming has put out
a high proportion of games in the first
category; I am just afraid that devoting
your resources to historical games will
Huntington Park, CA
This letter is in reply to that of Ben V.
Kloepper, which appeared in TSG no.19.
There seems to be a misunderstan-
ding as to the potential benefits of Orien-
tal weaponry in MELEE. These benefits
are only meant to accrue to a character
specifically trained in the weapon, and
are meant to be compared against a
"standard" weapon from the MELEE
list. A Katana is not meant to be a magic
sword, as Ben suggests. (By the way, my
first name is Ronald, misspelling in future
will result in the evildoer having to com-
mit ritual suicide with his Wakizashi)
My statement was that "Samurai tended
to strike at the vital areas with precision,"
and that was meant to apply to a Samurai
Warrior of given DX as compared to any
other character of the same DX who is
hacking away with a heavy broadsword
and hoping for the best.
Giving a beginning Samurai figure a
greater amount of starting attributes just
makes the Samurai a basically tougher foe
who is in no way different than any other
MELEE figure. The Samurai would then
be equally adept with a standard broad-
sword as with his Katana. This is not
supposed to be the case! A given Samurai
Warrior may be no greater DX than a foe,
but if armed with a Katana against the
heavier broadsword - wielded with
muscle rather than skill - the Samurai
will strike more often and more ac-
curately. It is a combination of Samurai
training and a superior sword. A figure
untrained in Katana just has a broad-
sword for game purposes; needing the
same ST, doing the same damage, and
not gaining the +1 to DX.
The same rationale applies to the use
of other Oriental weaponry. A Sai in
untrained hands is just a big, blunt knife.
Rotating a Tonfa allows it to be a par-
rying weapon, so it absorbs damage just
fashion analogous to a MELEE main-
gauche. If you don't know how to use
it properly, all you've got is a club.
A figure expressly stated as being trained
in Tonfa does not necessarily have
greater DX which would then allow more
effective chances "to hit" with an ordi-
By deleting the extra benefits of
oriental weaponry, Ben removes the
point of using them. Why should a figure
use a Bokken in practice combat when a
club gives the same damage using less ST?
On the other hand, declaring that all you
need is higher DX to gain the benefits
only means that you have added superior
new weapons to the MELEE chart and
destroyed the tactical choice on which
the game is based. (If a weapon takes
higher ST cost as it does higher damage,
then players must choose between figures
with high ST which do greater damage
or figures with high DX which hit more
often) DX becomes the key factor
instead of one of the two equal, balanced
The suggestion that deflection of
arrows should be on 5 dice rather than 4
is a judgment call. Again, this was meant
to apply to the fantasy martial artist not
any particular historical Warrior.
The suggestion that IQ should be
directly related to accuracy is downright
marvelous! This should apply to all
Warriors, and is especially useful in
giving IQ a meaningful concept in ME-
LEE. Hitherto, it has only been impor-
tant in WIZARD. Perhaps that is inten-
tional, and forcing MELEE-only figures
to worry about IQ unbalances that game,
but I'll leave that to Steve Jackson to
decide. In any event, I would put forth
my own judgment call that -1 "to hit" for
every 2 IQ over 10 will make it too easy
for heavily armored characters to score
and the minimum IQ for this benefit
should be substantially higher. Naturally,
Wizards would not be entitled to in-
creased weapon accuracy.
A classic science fiction
game. . . available again!
The new boxed edition of STELLAR CONQUEST
includes 480 counters, 17" x 22" full-color map, rules book,
star cards, data sheets, and record sheets. The price is only
$12.95 - $11.50 for THE SPACE GAMER subscribers.
Came design by Howard Thompson; cover art by
When it first appeared, GODSFIRE was hailed as the best
political/ economic SF game ever designed- Now in a new boxed edition —
complete with beautiful full-color cover by Rick Sternboch and
enough components for fl players — GODSFIRE is a "must"
for the skilled gamer.
GODSFIRE is two games in one. The basic version is a battle game,
with space fleets and ground forces fighting for control of
fifteen planets. A unique movement system makes true
three-dimensional movement easy.
The advanced game adds diplomacy, subversion, politics — and the
chance of Armageddon. Defore you go to war, you'll hove to gain
support from internal political and economic interests
(by fair treatment, negotiation, bribery, or force) —
or face revolution.
Components include two giant 22" by 34" strategic maps,
1 5 System Sheets and 6 National Government Sheers; 960 unit counters;
616 Gigabuck counters; and the rule booklet.
Playing rime ranges from two hours to all day, depending on the
scenario (from 2 to 1 5 players) that you choose.
Designed by Lynn Willis; edited by Steve Jackson; cover art
by Rick Sternbach.
GODSFIRE sells for $1 5.95 — or S14.00 for
The Space Gomer subscribers.
Figh tfo r control of a
globular cluster — build,
Victory will go to the
player who makes best use
of the available resources
to outbuild and outguess
his (or her) rivals.
Please send me copies of STELLAR CONQUEST at S12.95 each (S11.50 for THE SPACE GAMER subscribers)
and copies of GODSFIRE at $15.95 each (S14.00 for TSG subscribers). I (am) (am not) a TSG subscriber.
Please enter my subscription to THE SPACE GAMER for months, at S8.00 for 6 issues or $15.00 for 12
issues. 1 understand that this subscription entitles me to the subscriber discount on games I am ordering now.
Name Address City State Zip
Please add 50 cents for postage and handling.
<@etagaming are 8761
The command post is well guarded. Tanks, armed
hovercraft, missile cannon, infantry in powered armor-all
with one mission: to defend that vital spot. And your
job is to go in and destroy it. Alone.
But when those defenders see you, they'., wish they
were somewhere else. Because you're not a man. You're
a thinking machine-the deadliest device on any battlefield.
You're the OGRE.
OGRE has become a classic in two short years. It has
pleased nearly 50,000 gamers and science fiction fans.
OGRE proved that a $2.95 game could match any for
sheer playing fun. If you haven't experienced this gem,
you owe yourself. Or, just maybe, you're one of the
many who has "worn-out" his first copy and needs ano-
*24 page illustrated rules booklet
*8" x 14" terrain map
*1 12 unit play counters
In the year 2085, a tank duel lasts only seconds. An
entire battle ends in minutes. Nuke-firing infantry men
dodge across the battleground in powered suits, trying to
come to grips with the enemy armor. And those armor
units, both tanks and hovercraft, are deadly. Only a
direct hit will take one out--a miss may stun the crew, but
their machine will keep trying to kill you.
G.E.V., sequel to OGRE, adds more detail to Meta-
gaming's fast-moving simulation of armored combat in the
next century. G.E.V. is a new game, but its wholly compa-
tible with OGRE. Stacking and terrain rules, new unit
types, the Mark IV Ogre, and more. . . Scenarios include
Raid, Breakthrough, Ceasefire Collapse, and The Train.
And within hours, you'll be creating your own.
Experienced gamers will be most pleased with G.E.V.'s
competitive play balance. The MicroGame format is
excellent for raid scenarios. And,
tournament-tested success. If you
tactical challenge, don't miss G.E.V.
G.E.V. is a popular,
want a fast playing,
*24 page illustrated rules booklet
*12" x 14" three color terrain map
*135 unit play counters
OGRE and G.E.V. are available at your local hobby, toy, and book stores-ask for them.
OGRE is $2.95 and G.E.V. is S3. 95 when ordered directly from Metagaming. Subscribers
to THE SPACE GAMER pay $2.50 for OGRE and $3.50 for G.E.V. There is a 50-cent
required postage fee for each mail order.
Box 15346, Austin, TX 78761